Drawing on MOA
s own collection, as well as those of private collectors and major institutions such as McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Museum of Vancouver, Royal British Columbia Museum, and Royal Ontario Museum, Signed without Signature inaugurates The OBrian Gallery, named in recognition of The Michael OBrian Family Foundations recent gift of $1 million to the Museum.
New exhibit cases, custom-designed by Milans Goppion Laboratorio (the same firm that designed MOAs Multiversity Galleries casework), showcases works ranging in material from gold, silver, wood, abalone, ivory, bone, and paint, and in form from fine jewelry and extraordinary woven and painted hats to objects of everyday use, including spoons, walking sticks, and napkin rings.
Besides the work of Charles and Isabella Edenshaw, the exhibition features works by other Haida artists, some of whom were their contemporaries, such as John Cross and Tom Price, and others who are either their descendents (such as their nephew, Charles Gladstone), or who continue to be inspired by their legacy. Artists of today whose works are in the show include Jim Hart, Chief 7idansuu, Robert Davidson, Ben Davidson, Bill Reid, Isabel Rorick, Ernest Swanson, and Daryl White, among others.
By showing the work of others alongside that of the Edenshaws, the exhibition addresses such questions as: what is the aesthetic that makes their work recognizable and so respected? How has it remained contemporary for more than 100 years? Questions are raised as well about the process of attribution of unsigned artworks; a process that continues today, and is illustrated by a selection of materials in the show whose makers have yet to be identified.