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Bill Reid Gallery Presents its Largest Exhibition of Northwest Coast Painters in ‘True To Place’

Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art presents the Canadian premiere exhibition of True to Place: stímetstexw tel xéltel from June 15, 2022-March 19, 2023. Curated by artist and muralist Xémontalót Carrielynn Victor (Stó:lō), True to Place: stímetstexw tel xéltel examines the artistic practice of 10 Northwest Coast Indigenous artists, whose expanding boundaries and embracing of contemporary styles and techniques are informed by personal and collective traditions of form, story, and place. The group exhibition explores a spectrum of color palettes – from bright neons to muted ochres – and features painting on a variety of mediums, including canvas, wood, paper, sculptural forms, traditional basketry, as well as digital creations.

“This exhibition offers a compelling perspective into the artistic process of many Indigenous painters from across the Northwest Coast,” says Victor. “Indigenous artists have historically and persistently seized any new tools at hand as a means of expression, moving forward in their practice from a place of history, tradition, and storytelling. Through the preservation of culture and principles of traditional form, artists use these grounding elements as a springboard to take their art expression further. Through the examination of process, quality, colour, and transformation, visitors are welcomed to explore new approaches, ideas, and innovations in painting that are place-based and story-rich.”

The exhibition’s subtitle – stímetstexw tel xéltel – was chosen with assistance from artist and language keeper, Thomas Jones, in the Upriver Stahlo, Halq’emeylemqel dialect. Translated as “Keeping the pencil moving forward,” the subtitle offers an essential and complementary element to the exhibition’s theme of moving forward from a place of history and tradition.

True to Place: stímetstexw tel xéltel features a striking collection of works from many emerging and established painters from across the Northwest Coast, inspired by contemporary issues, urban environments, and ancestral stories. Contributing artists include Atheana Picha, Corey Bulpitt, Crystal Worl, Eliot White-Hill, Luke Parnell, Ocean Hyland, Robert Davidson, Shawn Hunt, Steve Smith, and Thomas Jones.

Of particular interest, is the premiere of a new work from Eliot White-Hill (Snuneymuxw), which centers on Snuneymuxw stories, representing an intrinsic and universal understanding of connection to home and place. In his large figurative paintings by him, Shawn Hunt embraces ancient Trickster narratives, showcasing themes of transformation and multiple dimensions within one plane of existence.

Numerous artists continue to embrace innovative processes of creation, including digital media. Haida artist Corey Bulpitt showcases his signature combination of urban street style and contemporary issues with Haida storytelling in a live spray paint work created in the gallery as part of the exhibition, with the process recorded and later displayed alongside the finished work. Luke Parnell (Nisga’a/Haida) continues to explore new ideas of perspective and color through digital sketching. For this exhibition, he will combine his physical painting of him, The Drums are Sounding, with a short animated film of the creation process.

Other artists challenge their technique and the viewer’s interpretation through unconventional forms. Steve Smith (Kwakwaka’wakw) wraps his formline painting around smooth wooden vessels, while Robert Davidson (Haida) shares a contemporary painting on a traditional spruce root hat.

A series of ancillary events will support True to Place: stímetstexw tel xéltel and deepen visitors’ understanding of the cultural meaning of painting in relationship to place and connection, including a panel discussion, artist talks, painting workshops, and exhibition tours. Public programs will be offered both in-person and online to reach audiences across the Northwest Coast and beyond.

Admission information and a full list of events and registration details at: billreidgallery.ca

Xémontalót Carrielynn Victor was born and raised in S’olh Temexw and nurtured by many parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. As an artist and muralist, she is focused on maintaining Coast Salish design principles, while utilizing modern tools and mediums. Her work revolves around protection, preservation and conservation of culture and the landscape. In addition to her murals, paintings, and illustrations for scientific reports and children’s books, she is also a plant practitioner and Manager of Cheam First Nation’s Environmental Consultancy.

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