Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art has reopened and is preparing to celebrate the centennial birthday of Bill Reid (1920–1998) with a new exhibition; To Speak With A Golden Voice.
The exhibition highlights the legendary artist’s extraordinary life and legacy, To Speak With a Golden Voice, runs at the Gallery from July 16, 2020 to April 11, 2021. Guest curated by Gwaai Edenshaw — considered to be Reid’s last apprentice — the group exhibition includes rarely seen treasures by Reid and works from artists such as Robert Davidson and Beau Dick. Tracing the iconic Haida artist’s lasting influence, two new artworks by contemporary artist Cori Savard (Haida) and singer-songwriter Kinnie Starr (Mohawk/Dutch/German//Irish) will be created for this highly anticipated exhibition.
“Bill Reid was a master goldsmith, sculptor, community activist, and mentor whose lasting legacy and influence has been cemented by his fusion of Haida traditions with his own modernist aesthetic,” says Edenshaw. “Just about every Northwest Coast artist working today has a connection or link to Reid. Before he became renowned for his artwork, he was a CBC radio announcer recognized for his memorable voice — in fact, one of Reid’s many Haida names was Kihlguulins, or ‘golden voice.’ His role as a public figure helped him become a pivotal force in the resurgence of Northwest Coast art, introducing the world to its importance and empowering generations of artists.”
Reid was born in Victoria, BC, to a Haida mother and an American father with Scottish-German roots. He began exploring his Haida heritage at the age of 23, starting a journey of discovery that would last a lifetime. He studied jewelry making while working at CBC in Toronto, but it wasn’t until a trip to Haida Gwaii in 1954 that his creative trajectory shifted irreversibly. His time on the island introduced him to the work of his great-great-uncle Charles Edenshaw (no relation to Gwaai Edenshaw), inspiring him to create new works out of his ancestor’s sketches. Reid became known for making exquisitely detailed pieces, which were eventually translated into larger formats as he moved into monumental carvings. Some of his most iconic works today include The Spirit of Haida Gwaii (viewable in YVR), Chief of the Undersea World (viewable outside Vancouver Aquarium), and Raven and the First Men.
The gallery will publish a new exhibition catalogue in the fall of 2020 with essays by curator Edenshaw, Nika Collison, Martine Reid, and more.
In honour of Bill Reid’s centennial, a weekend of special events will take place on August 15 & 16, 2020. Bill’s Birthday Bash will include artist demonstrations, artist interviews, and exhibition tours via livestream. A limited number of free admission tickets for entry to the gallery will be available. Pre-book early to reserve your birthday bash entry tickets by visiting billreidgallery.ca
Note: Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art follows public health guidelines and limits visitors to the galleries and encourages 2 meter physical distancing for visitors.