Indepth Arts News: |
"SHAMAN'S QUEST - The Masks of NED BEAR"
2008-05-30 until 2008-06-22
Gallery 78 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, presents "SHAMAN'S QUEST - The Masks of NED BEAR" from May 30 through June 22, 2008. In 2006 Ned Bear won first prize at the prestigious Face the Nation competition based at the UC Davis Design Museum. Recently he was shortlisted for the Strathbutler award here in New Brunswick. Ned was significantly honoured with a Smithsonian Institute Fellowship in 2005. In 2007 Ned took part in the Gibraltar Point International Artist Residency Program, a distinguished cross-disciplinary four week program on Toronto Island.
All these honours and achievements are the product of Ned's artistic skill which is his greatest accomplishment. This artist seems to constantly search for new ways to explore the traditions that connect him and his work to a greater spirituality. From his masks he has also branched out into carving Pawakunol faces directly into living trees. These works, like all his output, are surprising and revealing. His carvings display a profound sensitivity to material and a complete depth and sincerity which bring traditional image-making into the contemporary without romanticism or sentimentality.
Ned Bear's inspiration comes from traditional spiritual beliefs. His formal education includes graduating from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, the first aboriginal student to do so. He credits George Fry, former Director of the school, for being a major influence on his artistic career. About to give up on his academic studies, Ned was persuaded by Mr. Fry to continue and Ned graduated with honors. He continued his art studies at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now The First Nations University of Canada), and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Ned holds a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of New Brunswick ( UNB ). With a major in Native Art, this discipline also became his guide for continuing studies of Native American art, in his pursuit of a university masters degree.
Ned's masks are often carved out of butternut, or yellow birch. Each one may be adorned with horsehair, (horses are symbolic of a free spirit) and bear fur (bear is traditionally known as a healer). Each spirit-helper (mask) tells a story to the listener, if they are willing to listen (with an open mind an open heart and an open spirit) - somewhat of a dilemma for many in today's society, where the present moment is usually dismissed with haste. Masks are named in Plains Cree dialect.
Ned Bear's masks have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally and may be found in important private, corporate and public collections.
Pawakon ( Spirit-guides ) ....are beings, or entities present (from spiritual realities...) who are interacting within this plane, to facilitate with someone.. in some way, and assist as spiritual-guide(s). They help guide one into learning something useful, or as guardians (for protection) and/or, as spirit-beings who helps one stay on a predestinated path in life..... and Waking-Dream, a Traditional Spirit-Quest , and/or a Near-death Experiences .
Ned Bear, 2008
butternut with bear fur, horse hair and leather lacing
19 tall x 11 in wide x 8 in. deep
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