Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is a gem of a gallery tucked away in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Canada’s only public gallery devoted to contemporary Indigenous art of the Northwest Coast is readying to open its latest exhibition tomorrow.
The Western Canadian premiere of Indigenous History in Colour runs from February 3, 2021–May 9, 2021. This solo exhibition by Luke Parnell is a powerful exploration of the relationship between Northwest Coast Indigenous oral histories, conceptual art, and traditional formline design. Indigenous History in Colour’s multidisciplinary analysis of the shifting perspectives of Northwest Coast art in modern history challenges contemporary discourse on notions of reconciliation and representation today.
“Indigenous History in Colour invites audiences to engage with the vibrant and dynamic qualities of Indigenous art, while also looking beyond the surface of popularized perspectives,” says Beth Carter, curator of the Bill Reid Gallery. “Inspired by oral traditions, history, pop culture, and Bill Reid, Parnell’s playful juxtapositions and bold commentary shine a spotlight on the work still needed to bring about authentic reconciliation for Indigenous peoples.”
Northern B.C. raised, Parnell is a contemporary artist and Assistant Professor at OCAD University. Wilp Laxgiik Nisga’a from Gingolx on his mother’s side and Haida from Massett on his father’s side Parnell apprenticed with a Master Northwest Coast Indigenous carver as well as earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts at OCAD U and a Master of Applied Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Parnell comments: “Research and exploration have become the basis of my artistic practice. In order to understand histories and concepts, in order to explore emotion and contemporary events, I create artworks. My artwork asks questions but never answers them.”
First shown at MKG127 Gallery in Toronto in July 2020, Indigenous History in Colour centres on the concept of transformation, both as it relates to Indigenous storytelling traditions as well as changing interpretations of Northwest Coast art over time. The West Coast premiere will feature two new large works, eight paintings, and a short film, Remediation, and accompanying totem pole — the latter works added to the exhibition for Parnell’s Bill Reid Gallery debut.
A virtual opening celebration, featuring Parnell and Carter in conversation, will be hosted via Facebook Live, tomorrow Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 6pm PST.