Beau Dick

Revolutionary Spirit


“The raven is a symbol of creation for my people. The raven’s wings are depicted as hands. The stream of abalone that flows from the raven’s beak represents the seeds of
creativity.”
Hands of Creation
Beau Dick, Kwagiulth

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines revolution as “any major social and political transformation, sufficient to replace old institutions and social relations, and to initiate new relations of power and authority.”

Spirit is defined as “the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.”

I would argue that speaking of artist, activist, and Kwakwaka’wakw Nation member Beau Dick, revolution is also about personal, artistic, and cultural journeys and/or change. Spirit, I contend, is the force by which revolution is enacted.

Darrin J. Martens
Chief Curator, Audain Art Museum
Beau Dick: Revolutionary Spirit

Beau Dick: Revolutionary Spirit, is a critically important art historical project for the Audain Art Museum to undertake and honours the legacy of this remarkable artist. The Museum has made its mission to focus on collecting and exhibiting exceptional art created by gifted visual artists from what is now labelled British Columbia. As such, Beau Dick and his work stand out as exemplary.

The retrospective provides insight into the complexities of traditional and contemporary Indigenous approaches to the creation of art on the West Coast. Beau Dick was an artist who was deeply rooted in the traditions of his Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation. He also challenges those traditions in order to create a distinctive artistic and cultural voice for himself within and outside of his Nation.

Audain Art Museum

Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick

Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick is a portrait of a Canadian art legend, Beau Dick. He was an enigmatic carver from a small remote village on the Northwest Coast of British Columbia.

LaTiesha Fazakas, Director and Curator of the Fazakas Gallery, saw her feature-length documentary debut in the fall of 2017. The film, eight years in the making, situates Dick’s life and work within cultural and political movements while exploring crossovers into the contemporary art world. The film was featured in international film festivals, played in theatres across Canada, and was nominated for the Cultural Award at the Victoria International Film Festival.

Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick – Film
Canadian Broadcasting Network

Fazakas Gallery

Beau Dick
Kwakwaka’wakw

Beau Dick (‘Walas G̱wa̱ʼya̱m ‘Big Whale’) was one of the most exciting and creative Northwest Coast contemporary artists of his generation. Having established a career that spanned decades, his work stands out for its power and emotion. In addition, his creativity and curiosity allowed him to reach out beyond his own Kwakwaka’wakw culture to experiment in styles of other tribal traditions. He is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable artists among the Kwakwaka’wakw, and perpetuated the ceremonial traditions of his people. He was a Chief and upheld his name by giving Potlatches and working as both a teacher and mentor.

Doug Reynolds Gallery

Beau Dick – Revolutionary Spirit
Darrin Martens