Eight Photos Showcasing 90 Years Of Art In Alberta, Canada

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

Numerous, 2013      Faye HeavyShield

The Art Gallery of Alberta is one of the oldest art galleries in Canada and celebrated its 90th birthday with the exhibit 90x90 featuring 90 pieces by 90 different Albertan artists created between 1924-2014. 

I was lucky enough to preview the exhibit and was completely blown away by the work on display.

The show was an eclectic mix of sculpture, installation pieces, painting, portraiture, and everything in between — an incredibly diverse showing of the fantastic creative talent that lives in Canada.

Here are a few shots of some of the synamic and diversepieces. 

Errol and Alice, 1983      John Brocke

Lubicon, 1988      Alex Janvier, R.C.A., C.M.

John Will, 1992-2009      John Will

Quilt, 1997      Shelly Ouellet

Large Pink Head #2, 1991      Chris Cran

Studies of Nature I, 1994/2014      Laura Vickerson

Camouflage Painting 1, 2002      Arlene Stamp, R.C.A.

Ancient Art: The History of the North American Totem Pole

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

Imagine that you are one of the first explorers to North America’s West Coast.

It’s early morning, and after a paddle through the still ocean water, you have docked your canoe on a grey pebble beach. The sun has yet to pierce through the thick fog, and you can see your breath in the crisp air.

There is not a soul in sight. 

The forest in front of you is lush, thick and dark. Taking a deep calming breath, you step into the green, snapping twigs underfoot and moving damp leaves out of your path. 

Bushing away an especially heavy heavy branch your jaw drops as you find yourself suddenly in a clearing with a massive, wooden sculpture that seems to stretch up almost higher than the trees, standing in the middle of it.

You had heard rumors that these monumental structures existed, and now there it was, right in front of you — a totem pole. 

Carved mostly from Western Red Cedar trees, totem poles are created by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Because cedar decomposes quickly, few examples of these massive structures from before 1900 exist today. 

These free-standing poles were symbols of individual clans, family wealth, and prestige.

Scholars believe the Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands were the first to create the totems, and then the practice spread throughout the West Coast.

The meaning behind the totem poles is as varied as the cultures that make them. Some represent familiar legends, clan images, notable lives of tribe members, mortuary statues, or mark an important celebration. 

Contrary to popular belief, they were NEVER objects of worship. 

It is widely believed that the least important carving is on the bottom of the pole (hence the saying “lowest man on the totem pole”), but, in reality, the most important figures can often be found on the bottom or even in the middle of the poles! 

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North American Totem Pole