1955 - 2017
Bella Coola Moon Mask
carved yellow cedar mask with acrylic paint and horse hair
on verso signed, titled, dated 1982 and inscribed "Alert Bay"
10 x 10 x 5 1/2 in, 25.4 x 25.4 x 14 cm
Estimate: $1,000 - $1,500 CAD
Sold for: $6,875
Private Collection, Vancouver
A carver, artist, storyteller and Dzawada’enuxw chief, Beau Dick is credited with playing an instrumental role in reviving Kwakwaka'wakw culture. Dick stands out among artists that have brought the visual culture of his people into the realm of contemporary art through his work, for which he has been embraced in Canada and internationally - particularly for the outstanding originality of his masks.
Born in Alert Bay in 1955 though raised in Kingcome, BC, Dick learned traditional woodcarving under the tutelage of Kwakwaka'wakw legends Tony Hunt and Doug Cranmer. Building on this foundation, Dick mastered the form and expanded on it. The wild creativity and versatility of his mask carvings have brought him widespread acclaim, and are collected by institutions worldwide. His masks frequently depict supernatural beings from local indigenous myths, often incorporating found materials which symbolize personal or communal significance. He would sometimes merge these with contemporary western concepts or insignia as a form of critique, challenging the legacy of colonialism by showing how the culture and language of his people has been suppressed and transformed.
Dick was an activist as well as an artist, and in 2013 he performed the first Kwakwaka'wakw copper-cutting ceremony in decades, signifying the separation of a relationship, in this case between the First Nations and the government. He walked 500 kilometres over 10 days to the front steps of the BC Parliament Building in Victoria, and the public shaming ritual was intended to bring attention to the government’s abuse of First Nations treaties, as well as the harmful practice of commercial fish farming.
In 2012 Dick was awarded the VIVA award for BC Artists. He has been the subject of a two person show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and his work was included in the 17th Sydney Biennale, as well as documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany in 2017. That same year he was the subject of a documentary Meet Beau Dick: Maker of Monsters which premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival. In 2019 he posthumously had his first solo show in New York City, Devoured by Consumerism at White Columns.
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