Art Business

McCord Museum’s Haida exhibition unites life, art and spirituality

“We have a totem pole in Tasmania,” exhibition curator Kwiaahwah Jones says of Haida art’s outreach. “Russia has a large collection of our art. It’s all over Europe. These objects have acted as ambassadors for the islands.” “Everything depends on everything else.” The Zen-like statement embedded in a panel of the McCord Museum’s newly opened exhibition Sding K’awXangs — Haida: Supernatural Stories does a neat job of encapsulating the world view of the people of Haida Gwaii. (If you’re looking at an old map, you’ll see an archipelago off the British Columbia coast called the Queen Charlotte Islands; the change was made official in 2010.) And as the lovingly curated and masterfully mounted show attests, it’s a philosophy embodied in the Haida’s multifarious art. Painted basketry hat, 1875-1900; woven by Isabella Edenshaw (a.k.a. K’woiyang) and painted by Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen); spruce root and bark, paint. Regular McCord visitors will be accustomed to the sight of Frontal Pole, a towering mid-19th-century wooden carving that dominates the building’s side stairwell. The new show scales things down from that monumental Haida piece, taking visitors on an intimate tour into the domestic heart of a world where life, art and spirituality are a […]


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