Copper from the Hood

Artist: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Haida, 2010.

The copper coating and the rectangular shape echo traditional Coppers which were a sign of wealth among the Haida.

The Haida are among a half dozen First Nations peoples of North America that the British Museum works with which includes the Nuu-chah-nulth of the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Kwakwakw'wakw of Alert Bay.

And by being made on an actual car hood, the use of a found object placed it within the arc of contemporary art history. Copper from the Hood expresses the contemporary values and identity of the Haida. The hoods used in the Copper from the Hood series are specifically from Toyota Tercels. The reason is to play on the meaning Tercel, a word which comes from the Latin tersus which means smoothly elegant and polished - just like the surface of a work in the series which is covered in burnished copper leaf. Coppers from the Hood refers to cars as contemporary replacement of traditional coppers as symbols of wealth in Haida Gwaii.

A Copper car bonnet painted with stylised animal/bird characters

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This work falls within the "rotational series", that is work from my studio that is designed to be rotated by persons other than the artist. The image can be turned upside down or right side up. There is no 'correct' horizon and the shifting horizon line also shifts the narrative.

Under the authority of the Observer, Curator etc, new meanings and reference points are created. Observer as passive recipient or simply consumer of a product encourages hierarchy and elitism. An undesirable condition in political, social and economic life leading ultimately to stasis.

An engaged Observer that creates new references and determinations must thereby diminish the role of artist as the pre eminent authority. Authority is not exclusive and the expansion encourages robustness.

pre British colonial Haida society albeit stratified with slave based economies, was much interested in abstracting meaning. Puns and allusions remain popular. Contemporary life is much invigorated by this willingness, a creative complexity is welcomed as a mark of merit.

In this work I hope to acknowledge that historically and contemporariously, Haida and by extension, human society may be one of welcoming and respecting a diversity of positions or viewpoints on a single situation, thereby reconsidering the more limited and typically authoritarian view that posits opposition and conflict between the preferred and the dismissed.