Ned Bear Gives Nature a Face


Mosom Maskwa – Pawakan
(Grandfather Bear – Spirit Guides)

Exhibition celebration and catalogue launch - Thursday June 14th from 5-7pm.

Ned Bear Gives Nature a Face in Mosom Maskwa – Pawakan

JUNE 11, 2012 – HALIFAX, NS – Running to September 3rd, 2012, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia presents a powerful and deeply reflective exhibition that brings together natural media artist, Edward “Ned” Bear’s hand-carved masks with large scale photographs of his Pawakan (spirit guides) carved into living trees around New Brunswick.

Ned Bear’s inspiration comes from traditional and strong spiritual beliefs, along with an unfathomable personal bond with nature. Renowned for his Pawakan (spirit-guide) masks, these larger-than-life faces have energy and an aesthetic that embrace both the traditional and modern. Their exaggerated features immediately identify them as something innately sublime, yet deeply grounded in nature through the materials used to carve and embellish them. In recent years, Ned has taken to carving Pawakan faces into standing trees in wooded areas of New Brunswick. These living Pawakan entities are situated in places of selective inspiration and in their wake, are left for accidental discovery.

This profoundly symbolic exhibition features eight mask carvings drawn from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Permanent Collection, Dalhousie University Art Gallery, the New Brunswick Museum, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and three new masks carved just for this exhibition, together with life sized images of the living Pawakan.

Shot by Halifax based Steve Farmer Photography over a period of several days in April, the exhibition also features the GPS coordinates of each Pawakan so that visitors to the exhibition can visit them if they so choose.

Edward “Ned” Bear says
“I began carving masks from an innate desire to realize my Plains Cree legacy. To transmit an idea, or a definition, we as humans often look to the face, as the face gives us the means to relate. This exhibition is merely an extension of this exercise per se. We are all related, in nature, by nature.”

Shannon Parker, Curator of Mosom Maskwa-Pawakan says
 “Bear’s tree carvings are a culmination of what he strives to reveal in his masks. Where his masks present a finished Pawakan, his tree carvings undergo continual transformation and metamorphosis, his carving a collaboration with Nature that changes on a daily basis and reflects the mutable spirits of both a person striving for change and a living embodiment of the Pawakan.”

Mosom Maskwa – Pawakan (Grandfather Bear – Spirit-Guides) has been organized by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and is curated by Shannon Parker, Curator of Collections. The exhibition is accompanied by a full-colour catalogue featuring essays by Shannon Parker, Edward “Ned” Bear and John Greer, winner of a 2009 Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts.

There will be an exhibition celebration and catalogue launch on Thursday June 14th from 5-7pm.
To pre-book a free Canaccord School Tour before the end of the school year please call Laura Carmichael in the Gallery’s Education department at 902-424-6314.

Exhibition Celebration and Catalogue Launch
: Thursday June 14th 5-7pm. Members, Media and Invitation Only Event.
Telus Family Sunday: Sunday June 17th 1-4pm. A special drop-in studio workshop on masks and nature inspired by the exhibition.
Pick of the Month: Tuesday June 19th 12:15pm-12.45pm. Join Curator Shannon Parker for a discussion on artist Ned Bear’s Pawakan tree carvings.
Open to Public: Friday May 18th to Monday September 3rd.
NOW OPEN LATE - New Opening Hours: As part of our mandate to make the Gallery more accessible to visitors the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is now open:
Monday through Sunday: 10am to 9pm and Sunday 12noon to 5pm.
Admission is $12 full price; $10 senior; $7 student; Youth $5; AGNS Members and children under 5 free. Admission is free every Thursday 5-9pm courtesy of BMO Financial Group.

Images from Mosom Maskwa – Pawakan (Grandfather Bear – Spirit-Guides) are posted on the website here.

Notes for Editors

About Edward “Ned” Bear
Ned Bear grew up in and currently resides in the Ekpahaq First Nations Community in Fredericton, New Brunswick. From an early age he felt a very close affinity to all that existed within nature. Raised in a family of nine siblings, Bear was initially inspired to become a sculptor by happenstance, an epiphany which involved a community Elder carving once, years ago. He received formal training at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, where he became the first Aboriginal student to graduate from this institute. ..along with receiving Honors. Bear received additional training in the Arts at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now the “First Nations University of Canada”) and NSCAD University. He attended the University of New Brunswick (UNB) where he received his Bachelor of Education degree, majoring in Secondary Education, and continued his studies at the UNB Graduate School program in Critical Studies

Bear's focus is on giving a contemporary interpretation to traditional First Nation spiritual beliefs. He expresses this in hand-carved masks as well as through his Land Art – sculptural works in a natural environment. He also sculpts figure-forms in natural materials such as marble and limestone. He has participated in numerous group and solo shows, presenting art that is guided by a reflective sense of spiritual values.

Ned Bear has also made significant contributions as a high school art teacher in Native arts and culture program, a fine arts curator, a guest speaker and as a fine arts juror. He has served as the Director of Education for Ekpahaq First Nation community in Fredericton, and as a past member of the New Brunswick Arts Board. In 2006, he won first prize at the prestigious Face the Nation competition at the UC Davis Design Museum, San Diego USA. Ned was also a recent recipient of a Smithson Institute fellowship, New York City.

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