Expanding on Modern Native Art
As one of Bill Reid’s grandchildren, I never thought too much or too hard about Bill as an artist, storyteller, jeweller, carver, philosopher, or even as a Haida. I knew him as one of my grandfathers, – as my “Chinai Bill.” I admired him, learned from him, argued with him, and all the while, loved him.
I realize that Bill truly had an impact on the lives of people who knew him personally and the people who knew him through the legacy he’s left behind. He affected people from many cultures and parts of the world, people with different histories, experiences, and educations. Bill reached people in multiple ways and continues to do so.
You can like or dislike Bill, or find yourself somewhere in between. Bill’s complexities will be analyzed; his talents extolled by one person, his approach questioned by another. As happens with much great art, some folks will weave new intent into an old piece of Bill’s. Others might consider a piece from the past, present, or future that it represents. Then, too, many a Haida will lay it out straight, acknowledge Bill for what he was, thank him or what he did, make a joke, and wonder what the the fuss is about. And all the while some tricky and perhaps even prophetic message in Bill’s work could be missed completely.
There is one gift that Chinai has given to all of us, no matter which Bill it is that we know or what part of him we decide to analyze: Bill Reid has given us things to do
Bill Reid and Beyond: Expanding on Modern Native Art offers a wide-ranging and thought-provoking collection of personal memories and scholarly reappraisals from distinguished art and cultural historians, artists, and anthropologists on the compelling art and career of the haida artist Bill Reid.
Alert to the political, economic, and social events of bill Reid’s lifetime, which have radically change the way in which native art is produced and received, this book, – a significant advance on thinking about Northwest Coast art, – adds to the ongoing exchange of idea about aboriginality and modern art, a debate that Reid’s life work helped bring to world attention.