25 years after the artist’s passing, the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is reflecting on the lasting influence Bill Reid’s work has had on Northwest Coast art.
From April 26, 2023–January 14, 2024, the Bill Reid Gallery presents the Canadian premiere exhibition of Bright Futures, co-curated by Bill Reid Gallery Curator Beth Carter, Assistant Curator Aliya Boubard, and in consultation with Jordan Wilson (Musqueam). Alongside a selection of works from Bill Reid Gallery’s permanent collection, the group exhibition showcases a broad variety of disciplines and cultures from throughout BC and the Yukon, including surrealist painting, classic weaving, wearable art, conceptual installation, modern carving, metalwork, and abstract photography.
“Central to Bright Futures is how contemporary Indigenous artists of the Northwest Coast seize new materials and interpret Bill Reid’s legacy today,” says Beth Carter, Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art Curator. “Bill Reid was a leader and influencer in building a broader understanding of Northwest Coast art, and combining traditional Haida elements with new techniques and materials. In the examination of traditional culture and familial lineage within his own works, coupled with those of his fellow artists, Bill Reid found inspiration and opportunities for an innovative and bright future.”
The exhibition’s works were selected from an open call for submissions, based on the question: “How does Bill Reid’s work continue to influence contemporary Northwest Coast art being produced today?”
The 14 selected artists interweave excellence and traditional knowledge with contemporary topics, such as reconciliation, urban issues, modern creativity, environmental concerns, and intergenerational healing, which fuel their practice and push the boundaries of their art.
The selected artists, many of whom will make their debut with Bill Reid Gallery, include: Tamara Bell (Haida), Sherri Dick (Haida), Rebecca Baker-Grenier (Kwag’ul/Squamish), Shoshanna Greene (Haida), Maynard Johnny Jr (Kwakwaka’wakw/Salish), Keith Kerrigan (Haida), Cody Lecoy (Sylix/Lekwungen), Latham Mack (Nuxalk), Calvin Morberg (Teslin Tlingit), Kelly Robinson (Nuxalk), Natasha Seymour (Tahitan/Tsimshian/Nisga’a), Yolonda Skelton (Gitxsan), Krystle Silverfox (Northern Tutchone/Selkirk) and Dustin Sheldon (Teslin Tlingit).
Artists’ works will be displayed throughout the main floor of the gallery, in conversation with key pieces by Bill Reid, curated to illustrate the legendary artist’s wide range of media throughout his career arc, including metalwork miniatures, jewelry, drawings, prints, wire sculptures, carvings, and monumental sculptures. Each of the selected works will respond to one or more of Bill Reid’s pieces, which developed and transformed greatly over the course of his career, from copying traditional Haida designs to later re-interpreting Haida stories and aesthetics in his unique vision.
Of particular interest are Natasha Seymour’s beaded Button Blanket Earrings, an intricate and modern take on the traditional button blanket, shaped by her deep knowledge of Tahltan, Tsimshian and Nisga’a traditions and cultures; Maynard Johnny Jr’s Protector, a silkscreen print which combines his distinct Salish style, connection to ancient ideologies, and a vibrant colour palette that resonates with freedom and hope; and Yolanda Skelton’s contemporary Chilkat Dress with Eagle Train – a modern day robe of power that acts as a symbol of decolonization and celebration of Indigenous culture.
Supporting Bright Futures will be a series of ancillary events including; opening celebration on April 25 at 6pm, several workshops, a panel discussion, artist talks, curatorial tours and a contemporary Indigenous artist market event. Events will be offered in-person, with some additional activities available online.
Bright Futures runs April 26, 2023 to January 14, 2024 at Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, 639 Hornby Street. Admission information and a full list of events and registration details are online at billreidgallery.ca