Haida master carver and chief James Hart talks about the process of creating The Dance Screen (The Scream Too) and the experience of completing it at the Gallery.
In late 2009, artist James Hart began designing a large-scale sculpture titled The Dance Screen (The Scream Too) and began carving the work in 2010. This ambitious project brings together many of the principal animal figures from traditional Haida stories, especially creatures that depend on salmon for their survival. At its centre is the bear mother and above her, an eagle with frogs emerging from its ears-not only do frogs symbolize good luck, they also have an ability to cross between this world and the underworld. On either side of the work are killer whales, as well as a beaver and raven. Standing on a small Haida House at the front is a shaman who ensures the cyclical return of the salmon that surround the entire work. This large dance screen includes a central door that dancers, in future, will pass through. As a major expression of traditional Haida beliefs, the sculpture evokes the importance of relationships between humans and the natural world, an idea made even more poignant by the current decline of west coast salmon.
Haida master carver and chief James Hart has had a distinguished career. As a young man he worked with artists Robert Davidson and Bill Reid and has since developed a practice that is acknowledged internationally. He has produced significant carvings such as the Bill Reid Memorial Pole for the Bill Reid Museum and the major bronze sculpture, The Three Watchmen, with casts in British Columbia and Ottawa. His work has been included in major exhibitions of Haida and Northwest Coast art in Canada and internationally.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is grateful for the generous loan and support of a private collector who has facilitates this exhibition.
Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Ian Thom, senior curator, historical.
James Hart The Dance Screen is the fourteenth installment in NEXT: A Series of Artist Projects from the Pacific Rim, presented by TD Bank Group.
Generously Supported by:
Gary R. Bell