Two exhibitions mark the re-opening of the Bill Reid Gallery

Artefacts from the Home Away from Home exhibition | Photo courtesy of the Bill Reid Gallery

Coinciding with its 10th anniversary, the recently renovated Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is ready to welcome Vancouverites and visitors alike.

Working in association with the Cultural Sharing Program, the gallery will present Home Away from Home produced by Samantha Nock (Cree-Metis) and Nicole Bird (Haida), and Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest, running June 8, 2018–January 13, 2019.

“It’s really exciting to showcase Indigenous cultures in Vancouver,” says Laurie Buckley, the gallery’s marketing specialist. “The new gallery space will enable a different perspective of works by Carnegie Centre from across communities to be on show for all people.”

The exhibition will offer a mixture of art, photographs, and writing that will guide visitors through words and art. As a community, the Program has decided to create a wall hanging in ”the style of a button blanket to represent them, their relationship to the gallery and their community.” Other pieces included in the exhibition will feature the kinds of projects worked on in the program, such as drumsticks, drums, rattles, weavings, and drawings.

A home to celebrate all cultures

Home Away from Home marks the launch of the Bryan and Audrey Williams Gallery on the mezzanine level that offers a focused exhibition area that goes alongside the new Hummingbird Gathering Space, a space for educational and public events such as hands-on workshops and artist presentations.

“I am excited that this exhibition showcases a different perspective on how Indigenous cultures are celebrated in the city and am happy that that our visitors will now be aware that this important program exists in our community (the Downtown Eastside),” says Nock.

The Cultural Sharing Pprogram works to not only celebrate Indigenous culture but across communities with events such as Chinese New Year and the Jewish festival of Chanukah. Although it’s a place for urban Indigenous peoples in Vancouver to meet and create community, the space remains open to all people regardless of race or ethnicity.

“The group itself is composed of mainly Indigenous folks, but also has members that are not, but everyone is part of the community,” says Nock.

The gallery will also hold events for the whole community including writing groups, jazz bands, karaoke, dances, concerts, presentations and performances.

Tattoos and culture

The gallery will also host Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest, the first exhibition to explore the history of Indigenous tattooing, piercing and accessory on the Northwest Coast with a variety of exhibits, photographs and paintings to be explored. Historically tattoos were a celebration along with a recognition of life’s special moments, such as potlatches or ranking. Lip, nose and ear piercing were linked to rank and status but were banned in 1885. Thereafter, such designs were added to clothing and jewellery instead.

Visitors can explore the history, symbolism, oral traditions, songs and artistry through this exhibition put together by Guest Curator, Dion Kaszas (Nlaka’pamux), and the works of artists Nakkita Trimble (Nisga’a); Nahaan (Tlingit); Corey Bulpitt (Haida); and Dean Hunt (Heiltsuk).

“Our new light-filled, open space is both human in scale and majestic – it is a beautiful platform that allows us to honour Reid by bringing Indigenous and other peoples together through art,” says Alexandra Montgomery, Director and CEO of the Bill Reid Gallery.

The gallery will open its doors free of charge and will offer free family events June 16 and 17, including storytelling, live performances and interactive sculpture, to mark the anniversary.

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