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Contemporary Art | Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

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Tongues 2009

Technique: mixed media on paper

Dimensions: 44 x 26 in.

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Exhibited: The Seriousness of Play, April-October 2016, Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, Vancouver


Literature: The Seriousness of Play, Nicola Levell, illustrated page 9


Tongues is a mixed media artwork using watercolours, acrylics, pigments, and ink on paper. The paper is mounted on a fabric backing embedded in gesso. On April 11, 2012 representatives of the Grabra Nation in Northern Marsabit gifted this piece fabric to the artist while he was traveling in Kenya. The fabric is significant to work as it inspired the artist to explore themes of climate change and the hardships of those living in the African desert.

The work is framed as to not have a primary axis, it is fully rotational allowing for it to be viewed from any perspective. It is part of Yahgulanaas’s Rotational Series, works of art that tell different narratives depending on the chosen horizon. In one position the ocean is presented from a low altitude while in another position the same shape is transformed into a planetary form outside the troposphere.

About the Artist

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is an artist known for his artistic practice of “Haida Manga,” which melds indigenous heritage with Asian influences. He uses this form to encourage critical engagement and to comment on social issues.

Yahgulanaas's visual practice encompasses a variety of different art forms including large-scale public art projects, mixed media sculptures and canvases, re-purposed automobile parts, acrylics, watercolours, ink drawings, ceramics and illustrated publications. Exploring themes of identity, environmentalism and the human condition he uses art and speaking opportunities to communicate a world view that while particular to Haida Gwaii - his ancestral North Pacific archipelago - is also relevant to a contemporary and internationally-engaged audience.

Yahgulanaas is collected by many important institutions including the Metropolitan Museum on Art, Seattle Art Museum, and Vancouver Art Gallery. His large sculptural works are part of the public art collection of the Vancouver International Airport, City of Vancouver, City of Kamloops, and University of British Columbia.

The recent monograph written by Dr. Nicky Levell and titled seriousness of play was published by Black Dog Press, London.


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