Urban Thunderbirds - Ravens in a Material World
The exhibition Urban Thunderbirds / Ravens in a Material World held at the Art Gallery of Victoria from September 20, 2013 to January 12, 2014, is the result of a creative collaboration with co-curators and artists lessLIE and Rande Cook, as well as the artists they invited to participate along with them, Dylan Thomas and Francis Dick.
lessLIE proposed the title Urban Thunderbirds for the Coast Salish part of the exhibition. The many connotations suggested by the title allowed for discussion of cultural appropriation, Coast Salish mythology and tradition, and the consumerism of urban culture.
In both parts of the exhibition, personal concerns that are expressed and articulated in the work extend into commentary on current events and issues that affect not only members of First Nations Communities, but all of us as inhabitants of this country.
The goal of this collaboration was to create a context for the work that offered space, creatively and physically, for experimentation to take place. What emerged in this experimentation was a platform for the artists’ voices to be heard through a range a works that explore issues related to personal histories, cultural conditions, and current events.
In the exhibition publication, Nicola Levell’s essay, “Beyond Tradition, More than Contemporary: Four Northwest Coast Artists and Citizens,” offers a settler-Canadian’s perspective on issues related to the production and presentation of material culture. Levell is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia, and her current research explores contemporary culture-making and the production of space (material forms and social relations) on the North Pacific Coast of Canada. Her essay highlights the existing colonial structure that the artists are responding to in their work, addressing the personal narratives as tools of resistance. Levell puts into a broader context how these complex narratives relate to current issues and have the ability to move “beyond fixed terms of reference.”
Nicole Stanbridge, Curator, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Salish Weave lent the works from lessLIE and Dylan Thomas, displayed below, to the Urban Thunderbirds exhibition. Subsequently, Salish Weave commissioned serigraphs of Cultural ConunDRUM and wHole w(((horld))) by lesssLIE for Box Set III.