Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver showcases
the iconic Haida artist's works. (photo courtesy effordphotography.com)
See the work of groundbreaking Haida artist Bill Reid at the
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver
There aren't many artists whose work is preserved for posterity
in a gallery bearing his or her name. But nearly two decades after
Haida artist Bill Reid's death, the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest
Coast Art remains a compelling attraction for anyone visiting Vancouver.
Raven and the First Men, by Haida artist Bill Reid (photo
courtesy Kenji Nagai)
The "acclaimed Haida master goldsmith, carver, sculptor, writer
and spokesman was one of Canada's greatest artists," states
the gallery that bears his name. Born in Victoria, British Columbia,
to a Haida mother and an American father, he became interested in
heritage "when he saw a pair of deeply carved bracelets engraved
by the Master carver, jeweler and his great-great-uncle, Charles
Edenshaw," the gallery website states.
Jewelry was thus his starting point, but over the years Reid
created more than 1,500 worksmany of them hugely significantand
received many honorary degrees and accolades. His work has been
featured on Canadian stamps as well as the $20 bill. In 2008, The
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art was opened in Vancouver
and displays many of his works. His art can also be seen at the
Haida Heritage Centre in Haida Gwaii.
He also helped mentor
the next generation of artists, brought Northwest
Coast art into international reknown, and championed Haida land
claims. When he died in 1998 of Parkinson's disease, his ashes were
transported to Haida Gwaii, where they rest today.
His most famous work is the Spirit of Haida Gwaii, a large sculpture
showing a canoe filled to overflowing with wondrous creatures. He
made two of these, one in black on display at the Canadian embassy
in Washington, D.C., and a jade-green one at Vancouver International
Airport, the most-visited aboriginal art piece in North America.
Opened in May 2008, this is the only public gallery in Canada
dedicated to contemporary indigenous art of the Northwest Coast,
according to the gallery. If you can't make it all the way to Vancouver,
you can view some of Reid's art virtually at The Raven's
Call, an interactive website that gives a unique view into Reid's
art and process.
"His legacies include infusing the art traditions of the Haida
with modern forms of expression, influencing the next generation
of artists, and building lasting bridges between First Nations and
other peoples," the gallery says.
Bill Reid was born in 1920 to a Scottish-American father and a Haida
mother. He became one of Canada's most celebrated artists, one whose
work embodied two profoundly different cultural traditions. This
site explores Bill Reid's quest to understand Haida art, and on
the journey, discover his own roots.