June 14 to September 30, 2023

Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest

with artists Corey Bulpitt, Dean Hunt, Dion Kaszas, Nahaan & Nakkita Trimble

Exhibit Update

The Body Language exhibition has arrived! The exhibition will now open June 14th at 10am for visitation and the opening reception will take place the First Friday in July – July 7th from 5-8pm.

The MAG is open late on Wednesdays this summer until 8pm from June – August.

Body Language is the first exhibition to fully explore the rich history and artistry of Indigenous tattooing, piercing and personal adornment on the Northwest Coast.

Since ancient times, both men and women on the coast marked their clan crests and symbols of personal identity onto their skin. Tattoos were a celebration and recognition of special life events, potlatches and social rank. Lip, nose and ear piercing was also linked to rank and status.

After 1885, when the practices of tattooing and potlatches were banned, the display of personal crest designs was transferred to clothing and jewelry.

The contemporary artists included in the exhibition are at the forefront of the revival of Indigenous tattooing in BC. They are reclaiming traditional techniques and traditional rights to be tattooed, and building awareness of the significance and protocols around the tattooing traditions.

Today, tattoos tell personal stories, create identity and a feeling of belonging. They can be intended to decorate, heal and protect, and are so much more than a trend. Each artist will examine the history, symbolism, oral traditions, songs and artistry of indigenous tattooing within their region.

Related Programs

Body Language is organized by the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art.

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