Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

The Trickster Shift: Humour and Irony in Contemporary Native Art


  • Medium: hardcover
  • Size: 8.25 × 11 inches, 303 pages

“You can always go head on at something, and try to wrestle it to the ground and choke it to death as opposed to setting a trap for it, and opening it up and catching it off-guard.” —Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

The influence and power of the Trickster figure—often embodied as Coyote—is deeply entwined with Native cultural sensibility and expressed through wry, ironic humour. In this entertaining and innovative book, Allan J. Ryan explores the Trickster’s presence in the work of outstanding artists such as Carl Beam, Rebecca Belmore, Bob Boyer, Joane Cardinal-Schubert, George Littlechild, Jim Logan, Gerald McMaster, Shelley Niro, Ron Noganosh, Jane Ash Poitras, Edward Poitras, Bill Powless, and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun.

Gloriously illustrated, The Trickster Shift not only presents some of the most stunningly original examples of contemporary Native art but also allows the artists to offer their own insights into the creative process and the nature of Native humour. The humour—and the art—is characterized by frequent teasing, outrageous punning, surprising association, extreme subtlety, layered and serious reference, and considerable compassion.

  • Published in Canada by UBC Press
  • Published in USA by University of Washington Press

Allan J. Ryan

(1945- )

Allan J. Ryan lectures frequently on anthropology, art history, and Native studies, and has also worked as a graphic designer, singer/songwriter, and television satirist. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia and is currently researching the work of North American cartoonists.