Vancouver Art Gallery presents Rapture, Rhythm and the Tree Of Life – Emily Carr and Her Female Contemporaries from December 7, 2019 to June 28, 2020. Emily Carr (1871-1945) is an iconic Canadian artist who is widely recognized for her paintings of the forested landscapes of British Columbia that evoke the possibility for transcending the material world through the colour, shapes and rhythms of nature. Drawn primarily from the Gallery’s permanent collection, this exhibition features a number of Carr’s paintings of forest interiors—environments that she often described in her journals as offering an almost rapturous connection to the divine.
“Emily Carr is without doubt a crucial figure in the development of Western modern art in British Columbia,” says Daina Augaitis, Interim Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, “Her achievements were extraordinary – during her lifetime she repeatedly transgressed the societal norms that confined the behaviour of women.”
Carr’s iconic pictures of West Coast rainforests and Indigenous villages play a central role in the way British Columbia is represented in the popular imagination, but at the same time, have become a focal point for critical discussions of the region’s troubling colonial history. Her compositions of geometric and organic forms successfully capture the rhythm and rapture of our coastal rainforests, yet the sombre, melancholic images of Indigenous settlements and totems contributed—intentionally or not—to the myth of the “disappearing Indian” that became one of the foundations of Euro-Canadian colonialism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Presented in conjunction with Carr’s paintings are works from the same era produced by Indigenous creators such as Amy Cooper (Th’ewá:li), Mary Little (Nuu-chah-nulth), and Placida Wallace (Líl̓wat Nation) who followed long-standing sacred traditions in sourcing roots, bark and wood from the cedar tree, known to the Indigenous Peoples of the Northwest Coast as the “tree of life.” The continuity of this practice is testament to the vitality and persistence of Indigenous cultures at the time.
The exhibition also features paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by Vancouver-based artists such as Irene Hoffar Reid, Vera Weatherbie, Beatrice Lennie and Unity Bainbridge who developed their own distinct approaches to the ideals and palettes of modernism. Considered together, these works present an expanded view of the diverse creative practices of women in this region during the first four decades of the twentieth century.
Join DARPAN Magazine community on socialmedia!