The “Dreaming ourselves as each other” Coffeehouse Evening Walk and Talk Tour at the Art Gallery of Swift Current on Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. will be an opportunity to experience the work of globally-acclaimed Canadian Aboriginal artist Carl Beam through the eyes of Gordon Novak, friend and printmaker for the artist.
In the 12 etchings of The Columbus Suite, 1990, distilled from the larger Columbus Project, Carl Beam challenges the beliefs of half a millennium of colonialism, reclaiming and examining notions of discovery and identity to counter the public celebration of the 500th anniversary celebration of Columbus's "discovery" of the Americas scheduled for 1992.
Many people, including those whose ancestors were indigenous to North America, found the celebration ironic and troubling because it represented history as seen from only a European perspective.
In these images, Beam uses historic figures such as Christ, Riel, Sitting Bull, Einstein, Lincoln, Kennedy and Columbus juxtaposed with numerous historical references and symbols to make artwork that represents a contrasting yet balanced assembly of heroes from different cultures.
Beam wrote, "my works are like little puzzles, interesting little games. I play a game of dreaming ourselves as each other. In this we find out that we're all basically human.
Described as "fearless, visionary and, ultimately, unforgettable" in his work, Beam was honoured with a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts and recognized by the National Gallery of Canada as one of Canada's most important artists.
He died in 2005 at the age of 62 at his home and birthplace of M'Chigeeng on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, from complications of diabetes.
The Art Gallery of Swift Current reception includes hors d' oeuvres, a cash bar, and a live music performance. There is a $5 cover charge.