Independent Art Fair
March 5 – March 8, 2020
50 Varick Street, New York NY 10013
Fazakas Gallery is pleased to announce our participation in the Independent Art Fair featuring works by Beau Dick and Maureen Gruben.
This grouping of works by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Beau Dick and Inuvialuit artist Maureen Gruben is, in a sense, a bi-coastal meeting. Beau was from the village of Alert Bay on the northern coast of Vancouver Island; Maureen is from the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk on the northern arctic coast of Northwest Territories. This is an interface between two practices that are deeply rooted in the specificities of place and culture, but also, notably, in which the ‘shock of the new’ becomes an a-temporal phenomenon. The works presented here are engaged in continuous emergence. While cultural forms exist as materials, they also persist beyond materials; they can shift, withdraw, and (re)materialize at infinite points in place and time. Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonial burning of Atlakim masks, which the community will endlessly recreate, is a formalized expression of this perpetual emergence. As Candice Hopkins has described with reference to this, “Ceremony ruptures the division between the historical and contemporary.” This temporal division is also ruptured by the assertiveness and vision with which Beau and Maureen bring traditional forms into their contemporary practices and decisively reimagine them—these works simultaneously hold within them striking innovation and intimate familiarity.
Words by Kyra Kordoski.
Chief Beau Dick, Walas Gwa’yam (1955–2017), was a Kwakwaka’wakw (Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation) artist and activist. He was born in the community of Alert Bay, B.C., and lived in Kingcome Inlet, Vancouver, and Victoria before returning to Alert Bay to live and work. He began carving at an early age, studying under his father, Benjamin Dick, his grandfather, James Dick, and other renowned artists such as Henry Hunt and Doug Cranmer. He also worked alongside master carvers Robert Davidson, Tony Hunt, and Bill Reid.
Dick created several important public works, including a transformation mask for the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver and the Ga’akstalas Totem Pole for Stanley Park, carved with Wayne Alfred and raised in 1991. His work has been shown in exhibitions around the world, including at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, B.C. (1976); Canada House, London, United Kingdom (1998); the 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2010); and Documenta 14 in Athens, Greece, and Kassel, Germany (2017). He was the recipient of the 2012 VIVA Award and was artist-in-residence at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory from 2013 to 2017.
Maureen Gruben is an artist based in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Through disassembling and re-forming polar bear fur, moose hides, seal skins, and gathered kelp, she forges a link between threatened arctic lands and communities, as well as international environmental and human conditions. In several works, she addresses the historical persistence of specific forms, as ancestral tools re-emerge in new mediums such as concrete or fiberglass, and at altered scales.
Gruben spent much of her childhood sewing with her mother, who was a seamstress, and trapping with her father. She has a tacit knowledge of arctic land and the rich but increasingly precarious resources it offers for both survival and creation. Frequently addressing themes such as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), melting ice, and the rights of indigenous hunters to maintain their way of life, Gruben’s practice is permeated with activism while at the same time allowing generous room for her materials themselves to speak.