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First survey exhibition of Charles Edenshaw opens at the National Gallery of Canada
Charles and Isabella Edenshaw (attr.), Thunderbird Hat, c. 1890. Spruce root, paint. Museum of Anthropology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, A6390. Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery.
OTTAWA.- Charles Edenshaw was recognized in his time as an outstanding Haida artist and remains an iconic figure in Northwest Coast art. Working in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (1829-1920), he was an exceptional carver of wood, silver and argillite, combining traditional Haida design with an innovative and elegant personal style, and raising Northwest Coast art to new heights of sophistication.

On view from March 7 to May 25, 2014, at the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibition Charles Edenshaw marks the first major survey of Edenshaw’s work, featuring 80 of his best artworks selected from his exceptional carvings in wood, argillite and silver and gathered from public and private collections throughout North America.

“We are very proud to present this exhibition, which offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the great elegance of Haida artist Charles Edenshaw’s masterful works. Edenshaw is a key figure in Canadian art,” said NGC Director and CEO Marc Mayer.

“This exhibition is important in many ways,” said Haida Chief and exhibition advisor James Hart. “All the pieces that Charles created carry the respect of his people, ancestors and his family. To remain connected to both this line of important Haida cultural prerogatives and the changing ways of our future, we must carry on, in the Haida Way.”

The exhibition presents a wide range of objects that Edenshaw created during his lifetime, from traditional objects that he made for family members to elaborately carved model poles, platters and other objects produced for trade with Europeans.

“The arts play a critical role in representing our history and culture in the local community as well as across the country,” said Senior Vice President, Business Banking, TD Bank Group, Chris Dyrda. “Exhibits like this offer access to knowledge and inspiration – and as a supporter of the arts, we are thrilled to help bring Charles Edenshaw’s masterpieces to this gallery for residents and visitors alike.”

A career overview over four themes
Examining his remarkable aesthetic achievements, the exhibition focuses on four predominant themes: Edenshaw’s advancement of traditional formline design; his ability to animate Haida stories in his carving; his interest in new materials and visual ideas that led to innovative cultural hybrids; and, finally, his deep-seated belief in Haida traditions, which gave him the agility and fortitude to thrive as a Haida artist during oppressive colonial rule.

“Edenshaw left a legacy through his work and we are blessed that he committed his whole life to creating art for us to enjoy and study,” said Robert Davidson. “The magic of Edenshaw’s work embodies millennia of development of Haida art. One can relearn the magic and integrity of the history of the art form by studying his work.”





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