Exploring Northwest Coast Art

Whether a longtime resident of P.E.I., a new Islander, or a visitor, you may have spent some time examining the Tsimshian totem pole in the Confederation Centre concourse and wondered about the story behind this impressive object.

Found in the outdoor courtyard, the pole is titled Man and Dogfish, and was carved at New Hazelton, British Columbia by Alfred Joseph of the Ilagwiloit First Nation. A project of the First Citizens’ Fund and the B.C. 1971 Centennial Committee, it was donated by the First Nations people of B.C. to Confederation Centre to mark the centenary of B.C.’s joining Confederation in 1871

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Art historian Ron Hawker, who has relocated to the Island in the past year, will shed new light on the totem pole, and put it in some historical context in a free lecture in the Art Gallery. The talk will introduce the history of Northwest Coast art, identify the key media, genres, styles, and both historic and contemporary artists, with a particular focus on totem poles — his current subject of research. This free event will take place Thursday, April 28 at 7 p.m. and all are welcome.

Hawker most recently taught at the Alberta College of Art and Design following time spent educating at the University of British Columbia, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the American University of Sharjah, and Zayed University in Dubai. He is the author of Tales of Ghosts: First Nations Art in British Columbia, 1922-1961 (UBC Press 2002), Traditional Architecture in the Arabian Gulf: Building on Desert Tides (Wessex Institute of Technology Press, 2008), and Yakuglas’ Legacy: The Art and Times of Charlie James (University of Toronto Press, 2016).

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