Beau Dick: Masks to See & Then to Burn

Beau Dick, a Kwakwaka’wakw carver, based in Alert Bay, B.C., is on exhibition at Macaulay & Co. Fine Art in Vancouver in an unusual arrangement that speaks to the significance of the works. (Above: From Lattimer Gallery, Mourning Mask, an example of the exceptional range of this Pacific Northwest Coast artist’s work).

Some of the masks – the 40 Atlakim (forest spirit) masks in the show – are for ceremonial use, worn in a dancing series for 4 years only, then burned. “This grouping is nearing the end of its cycle,” the gallery says, “and midway through the exhibition the masks will be taken to Alert Bay to be danced one final time at a Potlatch, and then destroyed.”  (Above: Beau Dick with a mask from the exhibition. Vancouver Sun) The rest of the masks in this post are works from other galleries.

Otter Man, from Just Art gallery

Alder Mask, Lattimer Gallery

Tsonokwa Mask, Spirits of the West Coast Gallery

Eagle Mask, The Legacy Ltd.

Moo Gums (Four and Face) Mask, Douglas Reynolds Gallery, Vancouver.

Beau Dick on Facebook, here.

A profile of Beau Dick and his carving, here.

More on the exhibit, at M&C Fine Arts, here.

Advertisements

There are 10 comments

  1. Catherine O'Meara

    I’ve always been fascinated by the ritual of destroying one’s art: these glorious masks, Tibetan sand paintings, musicians smashing their guitars…is it connected to the deep spiral of life-into-death-into new creations, do you think? Or a recognition of mortality? The need for detachment from one’s creation? It’s intriguing.

    Like

    1. boomerontario

      Brilliant observations, especially the guitars. I do know this mask making and destruction is indeed part of the life and spirituality cycle of this family, over generations. Once the masks are worn for four dances, they’re believed to have completed their ceremonial lives. Your broader query about the destructive elements of artistic creation is fascinating, and worth a good ponder. Thank you. Love this.

      Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s