Transformation Mask

Haida master Charles Edenshaw inspired modern artists

Bill Reid is known for bringing B.C. native art to the world. A new book and show celebrate the artist who inspired him, Charles Edenshaw

Doris Shadbolt’s 1986 book Bill Reid beautifully chronicles the career of Canada’s best known Haida artist, whose signature works reside at the University of B.C., Vancouver International Airport and the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C.

French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss declared that Reid “tended and revived a flame that was so close to dying,” and lifted Northwest Coast aboriginal art onto the world stage.

More than two decades later comes a book and exhibition to recognize the artist who kept that flame alive at its lowest ebb, and passed it down to Reid and other modern masters of Haida art.

Charles Edenshaw was born in 1839 and died around 1920, after surviving the second wave of smallpox that devastated aboriginal populations along the B.C. coast.

In a foreword to the lavishly illustrated book Charles Edenshaw, Haida chief and carver James Hart describes how the young artist learned the ancient ways at a time when his culture was struggling to survive European settlement, disease and cultural domination.

“Charles still worked with his Uncle Albert Edenshaw, carving totem poles, argillite, etc., perfecting his artistry,” Hart writes. “Carving was – and is – our way of writing, recording history, showing our prerogatives, our stories, our beliefs, our religion.”

Robert Davidson, perhaps the most famous Haida artist since Reid’s death in 1998, is Edenshaw’s great grandson. Davidson and later Hart were taught by Reid, closing a circle that began when Reid learned the Haida way of carving from his maternal grandfather, who had been trained by Charles Edenshaw.

“The magic of Edenshaw’s work embodies millennia of development of Haida art,” Davidson writes in the book.

• An exhibition of more than 200 of Charles Edenshaw’s works, assembled from public and private collections around the world, is at the Vancouver Art Gallery from Oct. 26 to Feb. 2.

Charles Edenshaw, the companion book to the exhibition, is published by the Vancouver Art Gallery and Black Dog Publishing, London England.

 

Just Posted

Castlegar Rebels readying to meet Nitehawks in playoffs

Castlegar Rebels readying to meet Beaver Valley Nitehawks in playoffs

FortisBC explains rate change proposal

FortisBC met with customers in Castlegar to explain their new time-of-use rate proposal.

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

Team USA beats Canada 3-2 on the shootout to take home Olympic gold

Americans win their first gold medal since 1998

Two Haida men detained for crossing U.S.-Canada border

Edenshaw and Frisby travelled from Alaska to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

B.C. teacher suspended over allegedly using N-word in worksheets

Trafalgar Elementary teacher under investigation by Vancouver School Board

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Mixed messages on B.C.’s efforts to cool hot housing market

Economist says undersupply of homes in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna will keep prices high

Foot found near Victoria belonged to missing Washington man

Coroner says no foul play suspected in death of 79-year-old Stanley Okumoto

Most Read