David Neel - Artist.


This exhibition will display a contemporary version of the Kingdom of the Animals: 25 masks that depict endangered species of animals from North America. This will be a modern extension of the traditional masks that have been danced in coastal big-houses for generations. The masks will be exhibited and they will be used for a contemporary Kwakiutl dance performance at the opening event; a video will be taken of the performance that will be shared on a website created for the project. David began carving contemporary masks after researching the art of the early NCN masters with the support of the Canada Council and a Community Scholar Grant from the Smithsonian Institution. He visited and studied the major public collections of NCN art, such as: the British Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Chicago Field Museum among others. He realized that there was a tradition of carving masks that depict contemporary events and issues. The master carvers of old created masks which depicted people and events of their time, such as: a dance frontlet of a chief’s late daughter, a portrait mask of a contemporary chief, a mask representing starvation and a portrait mask of the captain of a fur trading ship. This inspired Neel to carve masks that depicted contemporary issues, such as: the Nuclear Disaster Mask, Residential School Mask and Mask of the Injustice System. This experience is a good foundation for this project - to contemporize a traditional Kwakiutl legend through masks and performance.

The Kingdom of the Endangered Animals