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“Paint” exhibition reaches out to local students

The Maple Ridge Art Gallery is offering school tours to accompany an exhibition of the painted works on wood and paper by renowned Haisla artist Lyle Wilson.

As an unofficial artist in residence at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC for some 20 years, Wilson’s artwork and research are well documented in the teacher’s resources created by the museum, which has authorized to be used as part of the Maple Ridge Art Gallery’s school tours initiative.

The one-hour tours are led by art educator Lisa Lake, who has developed her own programming for this exhibition for levels Kindergarten-Grade 3, grades 4-7 and grades 8-12.

In addition to learning about Wilson and where the Haisla people are located, Lake will select several artworks for discussion with the students.

Much of the information shared with the them is gleaned from the book that accompanies the exhibition, Paint: The Painted Words of Lyle Wilson, which is published by the Maple-Ridge Pitt Meadows Arts Council.

Some of the content for this tour is also based on programming created by the public programs department of the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, which has authorized the use of material from its resources for teachers.

Some of the ideas and knowledge to be shared:

• traditional stories behind some of the paintings;

• observation of the frequent appearance of animals in northwest coast art, significance as crest figures, traditional beliefs;

• discussion on the usefulness of cedar to the First Nations people and the traditional pigments used in northwest coast painting;

• explanation behind construction of the bentwood box (a miniature box is included in the exhibition);

• discussion on the painted line in northwest coast art, and the most common shapes incorporated into it;

• explanation of the Image Recovery Project – Wilson had a central role in a research project that sought to uncover images from historical paintings of the northwest coast, while initiated by curators Bill McLennan and Karen Duffek at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, demonstrated how infrared film could be used to reveal the painted compositions that had been obscured for decades by an accumulation of grease and dirt;

Included in our exhibition is a model house front, which was re-created by Wilson as part of the project.

The piece has been made available on loan from the Museum of Anthropology.

The exhibition “Paint” offers a rare, in-depth visual encounter with some 40 paintings on wood and paper by  Wilson.

Opening  May 5 at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery, this comprehensive exhibition reveals the impressive range of traditional and contemporary elements that inhabit Wilson’s evolving artistic vision.

The arts council thanks the Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts, Michael O’Brian Family Foundation and Maple Ridge Foundation for their respective contributions.

Also in support of this project, the Haisla Nation Council and Canada Council for the Arts made contributions directly to the artist, the latter as part of its Aboriginal Traditional Art Forms Program. Special funding from the B.C. Arts Council enabled the Gallery to offer special public programming aligned with the goals of the exhibition.

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