Canadian Mosaic: Carl Beam
Beaverbrook Art GalleryJune 14, 20170 Comments
The artwork Final Notice, 2003, by celebrated artist Carl Beam (Canadian, 1943-2005), is currently on display in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s exhibition, Canadian Mosaic. This work is drawn from Beam’s The Whale of Our Being series, a landmark body of work by the artist which commenced in the year 2000.
Throughout the full series, Carl Beam wrestles with an important sociological observation-- that there exists a profound spiritual absence and divide in contemporary Canadian society. This observation is symbolised by the recurring image of a great whale of primordial proportions, contextualized by the placement of strategic collage inserts. The series features complex photo emulsion techniques on canvas, sculpture, paper, and ceramics; and the works often pair numerous popular culture allusions with traditional aboriginal imagery. The result is impactful, prompting viewers to think critically about the relationship between a dominant culture and a culture that struggles to be preserved.
Carl Beam attained the distinction of being the first contemporary Aboriginal artist whose work was acquired for the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, and he was the recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Visual Art in 2005. Carl Beam’s works are included in countless public collections throughout the country, including the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Glenbow Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.