For the past decade the Nuxalk artist, Al Cole, has made an exploration of the complex symbols and designs of Northwest Coast rattles. Rarely has one artist dedicated years to exploring the range of themes and concepts developed over hundreds of years by master carvers from many distinct nations.
Included in this collection is a set containing both a Raven rattle and a Coast Salish style spindle whorl. The artist has determined that the imagery from the rattle was transferred to utilitarian objects like spindle whorls to preserve the cultural information during the time of religious and cultural persecution and the confiscation of objects where shamanic rattles were particularly targeted.
The Raven rattle is one of the most mysterious and definitive objects produced on the Northwest Coast and over time it was adopted by most nations as a chief’s rattle. Raven had the ability to cross all boundaries including time and into the spirit world and therefore this rattle was a reference to the history, knowledge, and power held by the chief and village.
Another equally mysterious rattle was the Oyster Catcher, which also carried references to connections between the spirit worlds of land, sea, and sky. To some accounts, it was the shaman’s rattle given to the chief. With Oyster Catchers, the form of the bird was covered with intricately carved human, animal, and supernatural forms entwined or connected by arching tongues. Regarded as the quintessential carving, for both their complexity and time to accomplish, for artists the carving of these delicate and complex objects was the “final exam” of their carving skills and were often undertaken early in a career.
This is a rare opportunity to see an artist working in series to explore the possibilities of this extraordinary cultural object.
May 30 - June 20, 2015
The Spirit Wrestler Gallery is pleased to announce the 9th Annual Exhibition of the students and instructors of the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art (Northwest Community College, Terrace, BC). The gallery is proud to have hosted this exhibition every year since the school’s inception and to offer the students a venue to have their work seen by an international audience. This year will also include the work of Dean Heron and Latham Mack, who were, as students, featured in previous exhibitions but are now instructors at the school, as well as being working artists. Dean Heron is also the recipient of one of the YVR Mid Career Artist Award for 2015.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery
47 Water Street
Canada V6B 1A1
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3 blocks from Waterfront Station
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