Haida artist Charles Edenshaw (1839–1920) is now recognized as one of the most innovative West Coast artists of the turn of the twentieth century. This exhibition offered a complete overview of Edenshaw’s work, presenting a wide range of objects that he created during his lifetime, from traditional objects that he made for family members to elaborately carved model poles, platters and other objects produced for trade with Europeans.
This exhibition constituted the first comprehensive survey of works by this ninetheenth-century carver of wood, argillite and metal, and afforded a rare opportunity to consider Charles Edenshaw’s creative output as a totality. It was structured around four principal themes that expand on aspects of Edenshaw’s art and his legacy. The first section, Haida Traditions, featured a number of objects the artist made for his family and for practical use that demonstrate the depth of cultural values imbedded in his work. The next section, featuring carved platters, focused on Edenshaw’s representation of Haida stories and his development of Narrative structures. The section that followed was dedicated to Edenshaw’s celebrated style, and drew attention to defining characteristics of his aesthetic through a range of objects, including model poles and bracelets as well as the painted designs on hats and baskets. The final section centred on the artist’s incorporation of diverse cultural influences and the complex new forms that resulted through increased contact with Europeans, such as walking sticks and silver spoons.
Organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Robin K. Wright, Professor of Art History, Curator and Director of the Bill Holm Center at the Burke Museum, University of Washington and Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator/Associate Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, with Haida advisors James Hart and Robert Davidson. The exhibition is made possible with support from The Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Government of Canada through the Museums Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, and Mr. David Aisenstat.