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Reshaping Tradition: Linking Continuity, Change, and Formline Design in Contemporary Northwest Coast First Nations Art

Title:

Reshaping Tradition: Linking Continuity, Change, and Formline Design in Contemporary Northwest Coast First Nations Art

Sine, Jaime-Brett (2012) Reshaping Tradition: Linking Continuity, Change, and Formline Design in Contemporary Northwest Coast First Nations Art. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores contemporary artistic production by First Nations artists along the Northwest Coast of Canada. Focus is given to an exploration of the choices made by a growing number of emerging artists who are challenging conventions recognized as the visual language of Aboriginal artists of this region, namely formline design. Two Northwest Coast First Nations artists are my focus: Sonny Assu and Shawn Hunt. A complex intersection between tradition and contemporaneity is revealed in the work of Assu and Hunt. An exploration into the artistic practices of these two contemporary artists leads to an important question: why does formline continue to circulate in contemporary Northwest Coast First Nations art and what meaning(s) does it convey in the present moment? This thesis seeks to uncover how Assu and Hunt manipulate and challenge Northwest Coast aesthetic conventions, raising questions regarding how Native art of this region is defined, interpreted, and valued. Attention will also be given to the work of historical and established Northwest Coast First Nations artists who have set artistic precedents and greatly influenced this emerging generation of artists. Discussion will include Charles Edenshaw, Bill Reid, Robert Davidson, and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Assu and Hunt push aesthetic boundaries, challenging the notion that formline design circulates within a historical context that does not allow room for innovation. This thesis highlights artists who are mastering and manipulating “traditional” aesthetics in a journey to achieve balance between an articulation of Aboriginal traditions and community belonging, and expressions of individual ingenuity and voice.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Sine, Jaime-Brett
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:14 April 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Whitelaw, Anne
ID Code:973826
Deposited By:JAIME-BRETT SINE
Deposited On:19 Jun 2012 14:06
Last Modified:19 Jun 2012 14:06
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