Indigenous Arts: Introduction to Arts of the Northwest Coast


Course description

In this course we examine artistic expression from the earliest known artworks to the present. We explore diversity in two-dimensional and three-dimensional styles, cultural contexts, relationships between artistic expression and environment and spirituality. We will study the meaning and context associated with a broad range of objects from ceremonial masks and totem poles to bentwood boxes, silkscreen prints, jewellery, drums and rattles. Additional themes will be discussed, such as the development of the graphic arts in print form; contemporary interpretations of traditional concepts, such as transformation, in the work of artists Tim Paul, Robert Davidson, Susan Point, Art Thompson, Bill Reid, Tony Hunt, Kevin Cranmer and many others; and the wide spectrum of artistic output embracing naturalistic as well as abstract design. We will consider the similarities and differences among the various cultural groups of the Northwest Coast such as the Haida, Tsimshian, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-Chah-Nulth and Coast Salish. Continuity and change in the indigenous artwork of the Northwest Coast will be an ongoing theme for discussion and analysis. Each lecture will provide many examples of artwork from private as well as public collections.

The course will also include a walking tour on campus of Northwest Coast art to examine a broad range of First Nations artistic expression including the study of poles, prints, contemporary graphic works, sculpture and carvings integrated into the University of Victoria campus.

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RELATED TO: Art History