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Journey: Paddles of the Northwest Coast

Inuit Gallery
Vancouver BC – Jul 9-Aug 5, 2011

Brian Jungen, Carapace (detail)

Maynard Johnny Jr., Coast Salish artist, Raven Before and After Paddle, yellow cedar [Inuit Gallery, Vancouver BC – Jul 9-Aug 5, 2011]

Jane Marston, Coast Salish artist, Blue Heron and Camass Flower Paddle

Jane Marston, Coast Salish artist, Blue Heron and Camass Flower Paddle, yellow cedar, abalone, copper [Inuit Gallery, Vancouver BC – Jul 9-Aug 5, 2011]

Northwest Coast canoe paddles have a fascinating history and breadth of styles that are both artistic and utilitarian. In this novel exhibition, a variety of embellished, carved and painted paddles are shown. Crafted from red and yellow cedar – some embellished with inlaid abalone or copper and others carved with family crests – they transcend their utilitarian backgrounds as objects of art in their own right.

Numerous contemporary First Nations artists carve paddles as a way to show their skill with relief work on two-dimensional surfaces. The intricately fashioned and embellished paddles are often used in ceremonial processions and dances.

Other paddles, painted with simple designs, have been used in the water. Diverse shapes and distinctive traits represent the work of artists from different tribes and communities: blunt, flatter bottoms for river paddling or pointed tips that make the paddles quiet for hunting and for use as potential weapons.

Northwest Coast paddles and canoes have traditionally been created with extreme attention to detail, reflecting both the artistic skills of the community and the symbolic importance of the pieces. The work in this exhibit includes paddles by John, Luke and Angela Marston as well as their mother Jane Marston, and Joe David, Bill Henderson and Marcel Russ among many others.

Mia Johnson

 Sun, Jun 19, 2011