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tonington Gallery is proud to present the first American gallery exhibit of contemporary Vancouver artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Haida). His dynamic work has been seen in museums and galleries across Canada, Asia and Europe, but he makes his Seattle debut with Stonington Gallery and the Seattle Art Museum. Formally trained in classical Haida design, Yahgulanaas is known for pioneering the hybrid “Haida Manga” style. “Manga” are Japanese-style comics that developed out of ancient caricatures, illuminated scrolls, brocade prints, and influenced by the arrival of American and European comics after World War II. Yahgulanaas’ combination of these two cross-Pacific cultural artforms is a truly unique and successful genre pairing that he has explored across multiple media. His hyper-kinetic drawings combine the bold lines of traditional Haida formline, and the narrative form of manga, to retell Haida myths in an expressive, original way. These narrative paintings burst with motion, exuberance, humor and arresting characters, and tie together the graphic traditions of two removed--yet connected--Pacific Rim island-dwelling cultures. This fusion has brought international acclaim for the artist, and prompted ever-deeper explorations. In a story for the National Post, Yahgulanaas explained that the connection between the Haida (whose homeland is a series of islands off of British Columbia, Canada) and the Japanese was not so far-fetched. Haida fishermen pursued northern fur seals across the Pacific Ocean on hunts that would last months at a time and take them as far away as the shores of Japan. They would land in Hokkaido or Hakodate, and, unlike the persecution they faced in Canada, there the men could “walk through the streets just like an ordinary human. They could go to the restaurant, could use public restrooms, they could shop and move freely and live freely as regular humans. Of course, that [was] not the situation here in British Columbia, in Canada, where if you’re even allowed in the movie theatre you had to sit in the Indian side.” Yahgulanaas sees Haida Manga as emerging not from a continental American root, but instead being “grafted on to a North Pacific literary tradition”. Trans-oceanic, cross-cultural, and all original.

Left: Detail of RED. (Sheet 14) Above: MNY at his studio


Yahgulanaas’ Haida Manga masterpiece is the 18-panel, 15ft long narrative mural, RED. The plot is based on a story from Yahgulanaas’ family. Red is a flame-haired orphan boy growing up on Haida Gwaii. When Jaada, his sister, is captured by raiders from another village, he swears to recover her. Red becomes leader of his village, but can think of nothing but his missing sister, and brings his people to the brink of war and disaster in his quest for revenge. By turns funny, exciting and tragic, RED is a parable about war, memory, and family ties. It also shows us the sophisticated society of the Haida before Europeans were a glimmer on the horizon. We are offered glimpses of the societal mores, the technological daring, and the daily village rhythms in this epic story. RED - Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas - Watercolor on Paper - 15 feet long - Private Collection RED is read from left to right, one horizontal line at a time, all the way across the face of the mural.


Painted in 2009, RED was the culmination of two years of storyboarding and three months of painting. Working six days a week, thirteen hours a day in his studio, Yahgulanaas found ways of stitching together the action and pacing of the plot within the larger framework of the mural. Yahgulanaas’ art is chameleonic throughout, showing tell-tale influences from Hokusai to Eisner, MAD Magazine to Edenshaw to Picasso. The mural has been exhibited across Canada and the United States, notably in the Seattle Art Museum from Feb-May 2015. It is part of a private collection. The mural was then spliced into smaller panels in order to print the book form of RED, which can be read as a comic book. Inspired by cross-collaboration, Yahgulanaas also created a video for RED in 2013 featuring cellist Cris Derksen and the animation of Chris Auchter. Limited and open edition prints of RED can be purchased through Stonington Gallery. To see each sheet more closely, visit: http://www.stoningtongallery.com/home.php


Comics can be defined as juxtaposed images in sequence, intended to convey information, narrative, or an aesthetic response. As readers, it is our job to see these static images and animate them, inferring what happens between each image. Traditionally, the blank space between one image (or panel) and the next is a space known as “the gutter”. When we see the gutter, it is a visual cue that time is passing, and that the characters and narrative are moving on to another scene or action. Comics scholar Scott McCloud has compared modern comics to serialized narratives from the ancient world, positing that the linear stories told by the Bayeux Tapestry and Trajan’s Column can be interpreted as comics’ predecessors. These examples from the ancient world are continuous ribbons of text and image, unbroken by page margins, unlimited in size. When comics began to be printed en masse for consumption, these ribbons were severed to fit the bindings of a book. McCloud has challenged artists to consider ways of thinking outside the box--quite literally--by breaking out of the grid system, and bringing comics back into more fluid and dynamic shapes. Yahgulanaas has answered this challenge in his own way with the 15ft long RED. Rather than adhering to the stock grid of traditional comics, he has action bursting out all over the page. Characters swing from the margins, and leap the gutters with abandon. But what makes RED unique are the black lines that connect, interrupt, guide and ultimately cinch the narrative together. The lines undulate, contracting to fine calligraphy, and blooming out into impermeable borders. These black lines--which he dubs “framelines”--are a harmonious blend of comics craft and Haida design:


Details of RED. (Left: Sheet 13. Above: Sheet 8.)


Yahgulanaas once stated in a lecture: “In a comic book, you have “a moment”. One moment, one image that you’ve captured. Before we move on to the next image, there’s a white space --the gutter. Gutters are time/space dividers that tell us that time is moving on, and place is moving. It seems to me like the theory is that everything outside [this moment/image] and outside this experience we have captured is not worth talking about, or that it doesn’t exist, or that if it exists it does so in a vacuum [the gutter]. “It reminds me of the very hopeful theory the Europeans had when they came over to this place… someone came and said, ‘Oh! The land is empty. Therefore, if it’s empty, I get to describe it myself. And I get to control it, and I get to cut it up, and I get to own it and sell it.”

Yahgulanaas sees his framelines as lending a different hierarchical order to time and space within his narrative, reflecting the values of interconnectivity in Haida culture, and as a response to Haida history. “The form line that exists outside The Moment is a continuous element unto itself – it has presence, and it has purpose that has nothing to do with us. It show us we are relatively unimportant to the things that are happening around us. Outside this room there are a lot of lives going on, there are stars being born and falling apart. We are very insignificant.” The frameline in RED imposes itself on the characters; at times weighing down on their backs and compressing them, forcing them to slip and squeeze between spaces. Other times it cradles, carries them to greater heights, or can be leapt across. The characters are not aware of the lines, but they influence every part of their existence -- just as we are hit with bad luck and good fortune, coincidences and near-misses in our own lives. The framelines can represent time, space, destiny, an uncaring universe or an omniscient pattern— but one thing is for certain: the characters within these lines can exert little force on them, and are caught up in greater rhythms than they can see. Indeed, when we pull back out of the small narrative and look at the greater picture, the framelines connect to give us a glimpse of the greater design-an abstract composition based on the complex Haida crest imagery, and an interconnectivity that is humbling.


Detail of RED. (Sheet 7)


Details of RED. (Sheets 1 & 2)


We are proud to premiere limited and open giclee prints of Michael Yahgulanaas’ RED in our upcoming exhibit. Painstakingly color matched to the original watercolor, they are printed on heavy watercolor paper.

Limited Edition Box Set of 18 Prints -18 hand-signed prints with hand-torn edges. 10% smaller than the size of the mural (20”h x 26.5”w ea.) -Artist-signed book plate and sketch -Beautiful museum-grade portfolio -Hanging guide -Book version of RED: A Haida Manga Book $7,000 (USD)

Open Edition Prints: -Sold individually, allowing collectors to choose their favorite panels. -Printed 25% smaller than the original. (16.7”h x 22.13”w -Printed signature on each print $125 each (USD)


A giclee print of RED made by the Royal BC Museum in Victoria for display.


The “Coppers from the Hood” series was inaugurated in 2007 at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, Canada, as part of the exhibition Meddling in the Museum. Using an automobile hood, the works are covered in copper leaf and painted with Yahgulanaas’ distinctive Haida Manga imagery. The sculptures reference both traditional Haida coppers - a symbol of wealth in the indigenous community - and the car as signifier of social and economic status in contemporary society. Fabricated from a car hood embellished with copper leaf, Copper from the Hood references the coppers which were a traditional sign of wealth amongst the Haida, while locating the work within the contemporary context of a world where value is defined by cars and other consumer goods. The first two Coppers are installed at the entrance to the Museum of Anthropology. More than a dozen Coppers have now been created and are held in private and public collections, including those of the British Museum, Museum of Anthropology UBC, and a collection is pending by New York’s largest museum. Yahgulanaas liked the smooth surface of the car hood, its resistance to degradation, and the meticulous engineering and aerodynamic accomplishment of “the car,” which he views as “the modern canoe.”

2014.10.15 Coppers from the Hood Car Hood with Copper Sheeting, Lamination, Acrylic Paint 23”h x 53.5”w x 3.5”d


-Jonathan King Former chief of The British Museum’s department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas


2015.2.26 Coppers from the Hood Car Hood with Copper Sheeting, Lamination, Acrylic Paint Size of an actual car hood


The Flappes series was inaugurated in 2012 and continues the artist’s exploration of automobile parts as foundational object, begun in the Coppers from the Hood series (2007 - today). Based on gas cap lid doors, Flappes are covered in copper leaf and painted with imagery. Like the Coppers series, Flappes reference the artist’s fascination with the aesthetically pleasing, problematic and highly symbolic nature of the automobile. As of June, 2013, Yahgulanaas was told that all the unused gas cap lid doors available from Nissan in North America and Japan were exhausted. Therefore, the three listed here are the last of this kind.

R: Flappe Series 2014-1-2 Copper, oil, on a steel gas cap door from a Nissan 200SX 7” x 5.75” x 1” each Works may be framed at additional cost.


Flappe Series 2013-6-11 Copper, oil, on a steel gas cap door from a Nissan 200SX 7” x 5.75” x 1” Works may be framed at additional cost.


Harbour - Flappe Series 2013 - 6 - 10 Copper, oil, on a steel gas cap door from a Nissan 200SX 7” x 5.75” x 1” each Works may be framed at additional cost.


The Raven Exercises (Series 2) were completed in March 2015. Ink on Japanese Paper Roughly 13� x 15� each


“Tripudio” is Latin for “joyful leap”. Original Mixed Media on Paper / Conservation framed. 2014 38.25”h x 30.25”w


“Maktali” is the Haida word for the area of Victoria, BC. Limited Edition Hand-Colored Lithographs 2014 Conservation framed. Each 19”h x 21.88”w (or flipped)


Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ wide-ranging artistic practice explores themes of identity, environmentalism and the human condition. Influenced by both the tradition of Haida iconography and contemporary Asian visual culture, he has created an artistic practice that crosses diverse cultures, generations, and disciplines. Yahgulanaas uses art to communicate a world view that, while particular to Haida Gwaii, his ancestral North Pacific archipelago, is also relevant to a contemporary and internationally-engaged audience. Working in multiple forms including painting, sculpture and illustrated publications, his artistic practice is acclaimed for its vitality and originality. The artist with RED at the Seattle Art Museum, Feb 2015. Photo by SAM.

Raised in Delkatla, Haida Gwaii, Yahgulanaas began working as an artist after many decades in the leadership of the Haida Nation’s successful campaign to protect its people’s indigenous culture and environment. In the past decade, Yahgulanaas’ work has been presented in museums across Canada and all over the world, including at international exhibitions in Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe. His art works are in numerous public and private collections including the British Museum (London, England), the Vancouver Art Gallery (Vancouver, Canada), the Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Canada) and the Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver, Canada). His large sculptural works are part of the public art collection of the City of Vancouver in Canada. In 2011/2012, Yahgulanaas was the Audain Professor in Contemporary Arts of the Pacific Northwest at the University of Victoria. Yahgulanaas’ publications include A Tale of Two Shamans (2001), The Last Voyage of the Black Ship (2002), Hachidori (2005), the internationally awarded Flight of the Hummingbird (2008), RED, a Haida Manga (2009), The Canoe He Called Lootaas (2010), and Old Growth (2012). He is also the illustrator of David Suzuki’s The Declaration of Interdependence: A Pledge to Planet Earth.


STONINGTON GALLERY 125 S Jackson St Seattle, WA 98104 206.406.4040 art@stoningtongallery.com www.stoningtongallery.com Open Daily Please contact the gallery with questions and regarding purchases Catalog produced by Stonington Gallery (c) 2015 Design and RED essay by Sarra Scherb All artwork by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas Photography by Christopher Fadden & Ashley Genevieve

Details of RED, this page and back cover.


Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas at Stonington Gallery  

Haida Manga - An Exhibit Catalog 2015 (c) Stonington Gallery All artwork copyright of the artist Photography by Ashley Genevieve and Christo...

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