Sonny Assu, #DigitalNative,
Acrylic on panel,
213.3 x 121.9 cm,
Sonny Assu: Continuum
June 12 – September 6 (extended to September 13)
Curated by Nadia Kurd
Through museum interventions, large-scale installations, sculpture, photography, printmaking and paintings, Sonny Assu merges the aesthetics of Indigenous iconography with a pop art sensibility in an effort to address contemporary, political and ideological issues. His work often focuses on Indigenous issues and rights, consumerism, branding and new technologies, and the ways in which the past has come to inform contemporary ideas and identities. Assu infuses his work with wry humour to open the dialogue towards the use of consumerism, branding and technology as totemic representation. Within this, his work deals with the loss of language, loss of cultural resources and the effects of colonization upon the Indigenous people of North America.
There is a clear interest in materiality in Assu’s work. The materials used for each work is carefully considered, particularly in relation to Indigenous culture: hand-painted deer/elk hide drums for their performance significance; posters for their mass-distribution qualities; and copper for its cultural importance to the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Assu’s projects emphasize the intersections and boundaries of traditional Indigenous art within the larger realm of contemporary art.
His work has been accepted into the National Gallery of Canada, the Seattle Art Museum, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, Burke Museum, Hydro Quebec, Lotto Quebec and in various other public and private collections across Canada and the United States.
Sonny is Liǥwildaʼx̱w (We Wai Kai) of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations. He graduated from the Emily Carr University in 2002 and will achieve his MFA in studio arts from Concordia University in 2016. He received the BC Creative Achievement Award in First Nations art in 2011 and was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2012, 2013 and 2015. He lives and works in Vancouver.