Rande Cook, Beethoven, 2011
yellow cedar and acrylic paint
Sonny Assu "The Wise Ones - Elder #3", 2011, archival pigment print,
15" X 19.25"
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Ebb & Flow
Sonny Assu + Rande Cook
May 18—September 1, 2012
900 Fifth St
Free Docent Led Tour: 12.30pm - 1:15pm, Saturday, August 11
All are welcome. Admission is free.
Presented in partnership with Vancouver Island University's
Shq'apthut: Gathering Place and VIU Office of Aboriginal Education.
Ebb & Flow celebrates the distinctive voices of contemporary
Aboriginal artists Sonny Assu and Rande Cook.
Trained in both traditional and contemporary practices, Assu and
Cook push boundaries to redefine what society understands and
expects of First Nations art and culture. Their work preserves
elements of their cultural heritage, and explores new concepts,
media and methodologies.
Themes of death and rebirth, displacement and belonging, loss and
reclamation, colonialism and self determination, the sacred and the
profane, traditional rites and practices, and contemporary popular
culture, characterize the powerful works in Ebb & Flow.
Assu merges Northwest Coast Aboriginal iconography with the
aesthetics of popular culture through painting, photography, and the
found object. In his series of paintings called Chilkat, Assu explores
how we dictate our social status, combining references to social
media and the traditional Chilkat blanket.
Assu's photographic series, Artifacts of Authenticity, made in
collaboration with artist Eric Deis, documents interventions in a
museum collection, a commercial gallery, and a tourist shop. Cuts
of cedar found by the artist, become faceless 'masks' and take on
new meanings as they are inserted into different contexts.
Rande Cook's photographs, sculpture and mixed media work
references the ancient ones, potlatch, plague, reincarnation,
substance abuse, residential schools and the Indian Act. Through his
work, Cook addresses the need for renewal and reclamation, the
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growing strength of aboriginal culture, and the importance of sacred
traditions, rituals, language, and stories.
Cook's sculptural work, Totems to High Rises, carved from red
cedar, interrogates the nature of wealth in contemporary society. In
a series of four photos called 'Thank you God,' the artist is pictured
wearing a carved wood mask in different locations, including at the
Vatican and in Times Square, New York.
Ebb & Flow underscores Nanaimo Art Gallery's commitment to
showcase the diversity of Canadian culture. Developing a
meaningful relationship with Aboriginal communities in our region,
and providing a venue for First Nations art and visual culture are
important elements of the Gallery's mandate.
Montreal based artist Sonny Assu (Liǥwildaʼ xw of the We Wai Kai
(Cape Mudge) Nation) received his BFA from Emily Carr University
in 2002, and has been featured in solo and group exhibitions across
Canada and the United States. His work resides in private and
public collections including The National Gallery of Canada, UBC
Museum of Anthropology, and The Seattle Art Museum.
Victoria based Rande Cook (Galapa), Kwakwaka'wakw was born in
Alert Bay on Vancouver Island. His cultural heritage lies in the
Namgis, Maamtagila, and Mamalilikala tribes. Strongly influenced as
a child by his grandfather, Gus Matilpi, Cook has since worked with
mentors such as John Livingston for his mastery in wood sculpting,
Robert Davidson in metal work, Calvin Hunt for his craftsmanship in
wood and most recently with master Valentin Yotkov for his
expertise in repousee and chasing.
Curated by Ellen McCluskey and Rose Spahan
With support from:
Thank you to Heaven Scent Catering for a fabulous opening feast.
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