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Robert Davidson

  • 1946 -

A Canadian artist of Haida heritage.

Wilson Duff

  • Persoon
  • March 23, 1925 - August 8, 1976

Wilson Duff was born on March 23, 1925. After serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a navigator, Duff attended the University of British Columbia and graduated with a B.A. in 1949. Two years later, in 1951, he completed his M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Washington. Duff’s professional research concentrated primarily on the native cultures of the Northwest Coast and he was instrumental in the development of scholarship in this area. His influence on the study and appreciation of Northwest Coast art was also very profound as he inspired artistic work and in some ways was an artist himself, as evidenced by his poetry and the poetic nature of some of his writing.

In 1950, (prior to being awarded his M.A.) Duff was appointed Curator of Anthropology for the British Columbia Provincial Museum, a position he would hold until 1965. From 1960-1965 he directed the British Columbia Government Anthropology Program. In 1965 Duff left the Museum to become a professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of British Columbia. Throughout his career, Duff maintained a close association with museums and galleries, helping to plan buildings and exhibits, and he was involved in the early stages of planning of the new Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Two major exhibits by Duff include “Arts of the Raven” shown at the Vancouver Art Gallery (1967) and “Images Stone B.C.” (1975) shown locally in Vancouver and Victoria before travelling to art galleries across Canada.

Duff was active on a number of committees and he was a founding member of the British Columbia Museums Association where he served as Vice-president from 1962-1963 and as President from 1963-1965. Duff also served on the joint British Columbia Provincial Museum and University of British Columbia Totem Pole Preservation Committee that purchased and salvaged some of the last remaining poles in the Queen Charlotte Islands in the 1950’s. In addition, he chaired the provincial government's Archaeological Sites Advisory Board from 1960-1966 and served on the provincial government's Indian Advisory Committee. During this time he led support for legislation to protect British Columbia’s archaeological remains and worked on the draft of British Columbia’s first “Archaeological and Historic Sites Protection Act” that was passed in 1960. In 1960 Duff acted as a consultant for the Kitwancool tribe and served as an expert witness in the Nishga land case before the B.C. Supreme Court in 1969. That same year, on behalf of the Alaska State Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, he surveyed the totem poles of southwest Alaska. Two years later, in 1971, Duff directed a project to record the history of southeast Alaska Indians for the Alaska State Museum.

Throughout his academic career, Wilson Duff wrote a number of articles, manuscripts and books. From 1950-1956 he was the editor of Anthropology in British Columbia and his first publication in 1953 was based on his Master’s Thesis on the Upper Sto:lo Indians. Published articles and book reviews by Duff can be found in Anthropology in British Columbia no.1, 2, 3, 4, 5; The Crowsnest 9(3); Victoria Naturalist vols. 7, 8, 16(7); B.C. Historical Quarterly, July-October 1951; American Anthropologist vol.54, no.4; Canadian Art 11(2); Anthropology in British Columbia Memoir no.4; Western Museums Quarterly 1(3); Museum Round-up no.12, 16; Anthropologica vol. 6, no.1; B.C. Studies no.3, 19; and Northwest Anthropological Research Notes 3(2). Although many of Duff’s manuscripts remain unpublished, a number of his books are considered to be foremost reference sources in their field. Such publications by Duff include: Thunderbird Park, Victoria B.C., (Government Travel Bureau, 1952), Selected List of Publications Pertaining to the Indians of British Columbia (with J.E.M. Kew, 1956); British Columbia Atlas of Resources (maps 12, 13a, 13b, 1956); Anthony Island, a Home of the Haidas (1957); Histories, territories and laws of the Kitwancool (1959); The Killer Whale Copper (A Chief’s Memorial to His Son (1960); Preserving British Columbia’s Prehistory. Archaeological Sites Advisory Board (1961); Indian History of British Columbia: The Impact of the White Man (1965); Thoughts on the Nootka Canoe (1965); Arts of the Raven: Masterworks by the Northwest Coast Indians (1967); Indians before the arrival of the white men, the Indians after the arrival of the white men (1967); Indians of British Columbia: Selected Bibliography (1968); Totem Pole Survey of Southeastern Alaska (1969); Bibliography of Anthropology of B.C. (1973); and Images Stone B.C. Thirty Centuries of Northwest Coast Indian sculpture (1975). In 1996, Bird of paradox: the unpublished writings of Wilson Duff was published.

Wilson Duff died August 8, 1976 leaving behind his wife, Marion and his two children, Marnie and Tom. In 1981, “The World is as Sharp as a Knife: An Anthology in Honor of Wilson Duff” was published by the British Columbia Provincial Museum and contained essays, reminisces, artwork, and poetry celebrating Duff’s accomplishments, research and friendships.

Edward S. Curtis

  • Persoon
  • 1868 - 1952

Edward Sheriff Curtis was born near White Water, Wisconsin, in February 1868. The Curtis family moved soon thereafter to Minnesota, and he grew up near the Chipewa, Menomini, and Winnebago native tribes. He was 19 (1887) when his family moved to the pioneer villages of Puget Sound, Seattle, where his father, Johnson Curtis, died of pneumonia. Edward had to support the family. He farmed, fished, dug clams and did chores for neighbors, but nonetheless managed to buy his first camera.

With only grade school education, Edward Curtis taught himself photography from self-help guides and built his own camera. He was keenly interested in the Puget Sound natives’ way of life. He made his first Native Americans’ photographs in 1896. Among them was the photograph of Angeline, the daughter of Chief Seattle, whom he photographed at Seattle waterfront.

He spent a season with the Blackfoot natives of Montana. A selection of his photographs, "Evening on Puget Sound," "The Clam Digger," and "The Mussel Gatherer", won first place in the Genre Class at the National Photographic Convention and won again the next year.

Curtis was later invited to join the famous Harriman Expedition to Alaska the Bering Sea, which was the last great nineteenth century survey to ascertain the economic potential of America's frontier. On May 30, 1899, Curtis set sail from Seattle with a crew of 129 among whom were some of the world’s leading scientists including Robert Grinnel, a leading ethnographic expert on Native Americans. Curtis was one of the only two official photographers on the two-month expedition. After a trip of nine thousand miles the party returned with five thousand pictures and over six hundred animal and plant species new to science. New glaciers were mapped and photographed and a new fjord was discovered. Curtis photographed many of the glaciers, but it was his pictures of the native peoples that established his artistic genius.

For the most part, Curtis labored at his own expense. But in 1906, with Theodore Roosevelt’s connection, he was introduced to J. Pierpont Morgan who agreed to fund his “North American Indian” project.

Curtis lived among the native peoples and studied their ways in depth and by doing so gained their friendship and trust.

His health and family life suffered due to overwork and long absences. His wife, Clara, and their four children could not always accompany him. In 1919 Clara filed for divorce and received, as part of the settlement, Curtis’ studio with all of his negatives. The original filing was years earlier, but Curtis was always in the field and could not be made to come to court. She continued to manage the studio with her sister. Curtis was obliged to move, in 1920, from Seattle to Los Angeles with his daughter Beth from where he continued the Project and shoot films.

He began his involvement with the film industry by assisting Cecil B. Demille ("The Ten Commandments"). Throughout his career, Curtis would fight to be accepted by scholars of North American Natives, especially the approval of The Smithsonian Institute.

In 1930, Volumes 19 and 20 of "The North American Indian" were published. The project was finally completed. The work, initially expected to take 15 years, took 30 years during which time Curtis visited the Arctic and over 80 North American native tribes.

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