Guest-curated by Rachel Rosenfield Lafo
Artist Talk: Sunday, August 11, 2pm
Reception: Sunday August 11, 3 – 5pm
Carving Demonstration: Sunday, August 18, 2pm
Working in the artistic traditions of his Nisga’a and Haida ancestors, Luke Parnell integrates his training in traditional Northwest Coast carving techniques, styles, and imagery, with the skills and knowledge learned from his Western mainstream university art education. Through the use of narrative and recognizable Northwest Coast iconography Parnell comments on complex issues such as repatriation of cultural remains, cultural identity, and the survival and transformation of native culture and its interface with non-aboriginal cultures. As he explains, “My methodology is to protect cultural knowledge but still create art that is not devoid of meaning. I’ve done that by showing that my work is part of a lineage and not a break from ‘tradition.’”
For his exhibition at the Seymour Art Gallery, curated by Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, Parnell will show three works. Phantom Limbs, 2010, a major installation of 48 carved basswood figures in Plexiglas boxes arranged in a grid on the floor of the gallery, is a reference to the repatriation of Haida remains from the Museum of Natural History in New York City to their ancestral grounds on Haida Gwaii. Epistemological Conundrum, 2013, is a totem pole whose carved images question the value and relationship of traditional aboriginal versus Western educational systems. The newest work, a wall relief and mask that feature the trickster character Raven, is based on the imagery of a Haida mortuary pole and addresses the topic of how Western interpretations of Northwest Coast iconography and visual language have transformed its meaning.
Originally from Prince Rupert, BC, Parnell earned a BFA from the Ontario College of Art & Design and a Master of Applied Arts degree from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. His traditional training was a three-year apprenticeship with Master Tsimsian carver Henry Green. Parnell teaches at the college and university level and is currently teaching at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. His art was featured in the two-person exhibition, past now at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, ON in 2010, and he has been included in many group exhibitions, including those at the Vancouver Opera (2013), the Harbourfront Centre, Toronto (2012), and Emily Carr University (2012). Parnell has been honoured with a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts (2013) and received the Winsor Gallery Graduate Student Award for 2012 at Emily Carr University.