Cedar Hill Long House Announces Online Exhibit of Rare Art Thompson Works: “The Spirit of Regeneration”

We’re excited to announce an online exhibition of over 30 rare Art Thompson serigraphs. Opening August 25th, 2012, the exhibit promises to be the largest online collection and sale of Art Thompson prints anywhere, and features limited editions of long sold out, signed and numbered prints.

Most of the prints were created in the 1970s, and are being offered for sale from the Vancouver Island estate of a long time supporter and collector of Art’s work.

Art Thompson was a Nuu-chah-nulth artist and carver who belonged to the Ditidaht First Nation, a large territory that stretches inland from Cowichan Lake to Nitinat Lake, and along the coast from Bonilla Point to Pachena Point. Art was born in 1948 in the village of Whyac on the southern end of Nitinat Lake, and was fortunate to be immersed in the cultural life of his people from an early age.

But at the age of 6, Art was taken from his home and forced to attend a residential school in the town of Port Alberni. He graduated in 1964, ending nine years of abuse. In subsequent years he became a powerful spokesman in pursuit of justice for others who have suffered similar experiences.

In a tribute to Art Thompson, entitled “My grandmother, she raised me up again,” Taiaiake Alfred says:

“Art Thompson was the spirit of regeneration. (….) He was a man who made the hero's journey from disconnection, fear and pain, facing and defeating demons all along the way. As we knew him, he stood as the most powerful carrier of his people's heritage and their most sensitive and dignified voice. When you met Tsaqwuasupp in person, you were drawn into his strength as a Ditidaht man. It was a remarkable strength, all the more effecting because you sensed its profound connection to the deepest roots of his people's experience - all of his nation's pains, the joys, the sufferings and the triumphs congealed in the living existence of one man. This life of dignity had not been an inheritance; it was fought for with blood and tears and sacrifice, and recovered out of the ashes of a life fire nearly destroyed by what his people did inherit: abuse, violence and drugs. If there ever was a person who embodied the spirit of a warrior reborn and who taught us how dignity can be recovered, it was this man.”

Art, who called hiOctopus Art Thompsonmself a survivor of efforts to erase his native culture, became one of the few artists working in the Nuu-chah-nulth style in the 1970s. He studied with fellow Nuu-chah-nulth artists Joe David and Ron Hamilton, who both played an important role in the resurgence of Nuu-chah-nulth art, and went on to study fine arts at Camosun College in Victoria from 1970-1972, and later at the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, where he worked in both two and three dimensional forms. It was there that Art experimented with printmaking, leading to the creation of the striking silk screens for which he is now so renowned.

Over the years, Art developed his own innovative and distinctive interpretation of Nuu-chah-nulth design that is rich in his culture’s traditions and stories. His work can be found in many public collections including the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, The Canadian High Commission in Singapore, and Stanford University in the United States.

 

“As an artist, you can contribute back to the people and give them strength”
-Art Thompson (1948-2003)

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