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Dempsey Bob (born in 1948), Wolf Chief’s Hat, about 1993, red cedar, acrylic paint, operculum, horsehair, leather, ermine, 38 x 45.7 x 45.7 cm. Collection of Eric Savics.
Credit
Dempsey Bob (born in 1948), Wolf Chief’s Hat, about 1993, red cedar, acrylic paint, operculum, horsehair, leather, ermine, 38 x 45.7 x 45.7 cm. Collection of Eric Savics.
Credit
May 18 – September 10, 2023

Wolves

The Art of Dempsey Bob

Winner of the 2021 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Dempsey Bob is known throughout Canada and internationally as one of the most accomplished carvers on the Northwest Coast. Indeed, his totem poles have been erected in the United States, England and Japan, and his sculptures and masks can be found in museum collections across the world. In what is the first-ever retrospective of his work, this exhibition retraces the master carver’s career from the 1970s to the present.

Between tradition and vanguard spirit

Dempsey Bob belongs to the Wolf clan by matrilineal descent, and traces his ancestry through the Tahltan and Tlingit peoples. In his carvings, he blends traditional narratives and iconography with contemporary influences. His understanding of art and its purpose within community is informed by his profound connection with nature and his exposure to oral histories, songs and dances from a young age. Bob acknowledges the lineage to which he is indebted, yet he refuses nostalgia. Instead, he boldly reinterprets the traditional characters and iconography from the age-old stories of his people, at times inflecting these traditional tales with influences drawn from European art.

Dempsey Bob (born in 1948), blanket made by Linda Bob, Wolves in the Snow Blanket, 1999-2002
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An ingenious combination of materials

The exhibition presents a judiciously curated selection of works from public and private collections across Canada: masks, panels, wall sculptures, vessels and regalia are complemented by Bob’s work in bronze casting, goldsmithing, printmaking and vestment production. The exhibition showcases his sophisticated carving style and his striking gift for storytelling in both art and language.

Dempsey Bob (born in 1948), Wolf Eagle Frontlet, 1996, alder, acrylic paint, abalone shell, sea lion whiskers, 45.7 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm. Collection of Eric Savics.
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Credits and curatorial team

An exhibition organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Audain Art Museum. It is curated by Sarah Milroy, Chief Curator of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and Curtis Collins, Director and Chief Curator of the Audain Art Museum. Iris Amizlev, Curator – Community Engagement and Projects, MMFA, is the curator of the Montreal presentation.

Co-organized by

Presented by

Official Sponsor

Denalt

Media partner

Public partners

Dempsey Bob (born in 1948), blanket made by Linda Bob, Wolves in the Snow Blanket, 1999-2002

Dempsey Bob (born in 1948), blanket made by Linda Bob, Wolves in the Snow Blanket, 1999-2002, blanket: felt, wolf fur, buttons, thread, 141.5 x 155.4 cm, mask clasp: alder, acrylic paint, leather, 20.3 x 15.6 x 6.7 cm. McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario, gift from the Christopher Bredt and Jamie Cameron Collection. © Dempsey Bob. Photo Craig Boyko

Dempsey Bob (born in 1948), Wolf Eagle Frontlet, 1996, alder, acrylic paint, abalone shell, sea lion whiskers, 45.7 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm. Collection of Eric Savics.

Dempsey Bob (born in 1948), Wolf Eagle Frontlet, 1996, alder, acrylic paint, abalone shell, sea lion whiskers, 45.7 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm. Collection of Eric Savics. © Dempsey Bob. Photo Rachel Topham

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