Despite sitting still in a glass case before you, some artworks never stop moving. They contain histories. They challenge us. They are more than art.
In a Different Light presents more than 110 historical Indigenous artworks and marks the return of many important works to British Columbia. These objects are amazing artistic achievements. Yet they also transcend the idea of ‘art’ or ‘artifact’.
Through the voices of contemporary First Nations artists and community members, this exhibition reflects on the roles historical artworks have today. Featuring immersive storytelling and innovative design, it explores what we can learn from these works and how they relate to Indigenous peoples’ relationships to their lands.
With the increasing impacts of colonization in the 19th century, many Northwest Coast objects were removed from their communities. As they circulated through museums and private collections, their histories were often lost.
Indigenous community members are now reconnecting with these objects and rebuilding their past. Through their eyes, you will come to see these artworks in a different light — as teachers, belongings, even legal documents.
Ultimately, this inaugural exhibition of the Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks highlights the creativity and inventiveness of Northwest Coast artists and how they understood the world they lived in. And critically, it shows us the immense body of knowledge that endures today.
MOA’s groundbreaking new gallery is dedicated to Indigenous art from the Northwest Coast. One of the most elegant and innovative exhibition spaces of its kind, the 210-square-metre gallery pairs cutting-edge technology with an inviting and natural setting that reflects the surrounding environment. Learn more.
The Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks was made possible through the generous support of the Doggone Foundation. Additional funding was provided by Canada 150 and the Canadian Heritage Cultural Spaces Program.
Image Credits — Top Left: Kaayd hllngaay skaayxan (spruce-root basket), with Wasgo (Sea Wolf) imagery, c. 1890 – 1920. Woven by Skidegate Haida artist, and painted by Neeslant, John Cross (1867 – 1939). Photo: MOA / Tyler Hagan. Top Right: xiigaa xahl k’iidayaa (carved silver bracelet), with Raven-with-a-Broken-Beak imagery, c.1890 Da.a xiigang, Charles Edenshaw (c. 1839 – 1920), Haida silver, Promised Gift, Private Collection, Montreal. Photo: MOA / Tyler Hagan.
June 22, 2017 – Spring 2019
What I see in front of me are reflections of a people who took the opportunity to look around their community and reflect what was important to them — in fibres, in stone, in wood. Everything that they made had a reason to come to be.
Debra Sparrow, Musqueam artist