Sunday 5 July 2009

Ian Thom - Order of Canada. Author. Curator. Nice Guy

On Canada Day curator and author Ian Thom, was one of 60 people named a Member of the Order of Canada. The announcement was made Wednesday, July 1st, by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaƫlle Jean, Governor General of Canada. Mr. Thom will receive the award at a future ceremony.

The Order of Canada is the highest honourary distinction in the country. It recognizes exceptional lifetime contributions to Canada and to humanity at large. Ian Thom is renowned for his contributions as a curator of Canadian art, and as an advocate for British Columbia artists.

Mr. Thom was a guest speaker at the McMichael at the Canada Day public opening of the exhibition he has curated, when the Governor General made her announcement of his appointment. He returned to the Vancouver Art Gallery the following day.

Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast is both the name of the gallery’s new exhibition and the title of a companion book. Written by Mr. Thom and co-published by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and Douglas & McIntyre, this publication explores the career, working methods, and philosophies of up-and-coming artists originating from Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Kwakw a k a ’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and other First Nations tribes of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Ian Thom discusses the Challenging Traditions exhibition at The McMichael on Youtube here.

The exhibition, Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast, brings Mr. Thom’s magnificent publication to life. It showcases a collection of over seventy pieces of contemporary art that are featured in the book and investigates how artists are drawing inspiration from history and grappling with the challenges of interpreting traditional design and transforming it into modern-day Northwest Coast art. The exhibition continues at the McMichael until September 20, 2009.

Responsible for organizing more than 100 exhibitions over his twenty-year curatorial career at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver-born Ian M. Thom is the resident expert on British Columbia’s art and artists. Mr. Thom is also a prolific writer, publishing numerous books on popular artists: Maxwell Bates, Alistair Bell, B.C. Binning, Franklin Carmichael, Emily Carr, C.J. Collings, Robert Davidson, Gathie Falk, Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald, Clarence Gagnon, Lawren Harris, Edwin Holgate, E.J. Hughes, Ann Kipling, Arthur Lismer, David Milne, Jack Shadbolt, Gordon Smith, Takao Tanabe, Andy Warhol, and many more. Prior to joining the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1988, he worked as the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s Curator of Collections, and at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria as Chief Curator. Thom holds a BA and MA in Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia.

CUTLINE: Ian Thom signing copies of his new book "Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast" at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario (Toronto). Mr. Thom was at the gallery to open the new exhibition which the book accompanies. Photo by Stephen Weir

Art Patrons admire this huge red cedar mask carved by Beau Dick. The piece is part of the Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast exhibition curated by Ian Thom.