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Carrying on

Carrying on "Irregardless" is a handsomely illustrated paperback based on the first exhibition to focus on humour in Northwest Coast First Nations art. The show, mounted by the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver is titled after one of Bill Reid's favourite deliberate grammatical blunders that were part of the sense of humour that, as Martine J. Reid says in her introduction, "was perhaps a part of his survival kit, as it often seems to be for First Nations people."

Within this book are the photographed artworks of twenty-eight prominent Northwest Coast artists, including such varied approaches to humour as a rare prehistoric Coast Salish bowl featuring a smiling face carved from stone, a 1990s etching depicting Raven and the First Men Overlooking Wreck Beach (to catch a glimpse at all the nudists, of course!) and a pair of red and yellow cedar bark high heels titled Too Haida. Collected here are artworks that act as political weapons, bold challenges to stereotypes, and nods to the Trickster. They satirize, ridicule and play. And, above all, they make us laugh, and think, and laugh again.

Accompanying the work are descriptions, quips and jokes from the artists themselves. And preceding it stands three impassioned contextualizing essays that range from the poetic to the academic to the anecdotal, by Tahltan artist, stand-up comedian and co-curator, Peter Morin; Director of Content and Research for the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art and co-curator, Martine J. Reid; and CEO of the Bill Reid Trust and Director for the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, Mike Robinson.