New Traditions - Yukon First Nation Arts
In spite of the inevitability of other cultural influences, the artists’ work ensures the continuance of their visual culture and traditions within a contemporary context. The expertise they demonstrate through beadwork, carving, tufting, weaving or painting is intertwined with a deep understanding of the natural and spiritual realms that are an intrinsic part of First Nations life in the Yukon.
The work of Eugene Alfred, Ken Ingemund Anderson, Vernon Asp, Dennis Shorty and Keith Smarch represents the wealth of traditional and contemporary carving that has become synonymous with Yukon First Nations. Alongside their carved paddles, totems, rattles, and bowls are examples of the exquisite beadwork, moose hair tufting, button blankets and Raven’s Tail weaving created by Shirlee Frost, Nancy Hager, Bev Morris and Ann Smith. The bountiful, quiet and resplendent beauty found in the many artworks that make up New Traditions is further enlivened by the images of ceremony and daily life as depicted by painter Jean Taylor. Taylor’s paintings are, in a sense, a visual chronicle of the history and tradition that underlies the artwork of her peers.
The integral stories of Yukon First Nations culture fit as comfortably within the artworks on display at the Inuit Gallery as they do in day-to-day life in Canada’s vast northern Yukon landscape. The artists’ precise renditions of mythologies, ceremonies, regalia, and many facets of their daily lives are inspired by and linked to their relationship with the land and all it holds for them. Their artwork is intrinsically married to stories that speak of the past, the present and a future filled with hope and promise. In a time when global influences can be cause for the blurring of cultural edges, the artists’ regard for history rich with tradition ensures that their own culture will not be eroded.
New Traditions: Yukon First Nations will be on view at the Inuit Gallery from February 18th to March 11th, 2010.
- Helen Sebelius