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Beam, Carl
Make-up of a Bird
around 1979

A raven partially dissected, a redheaded woodpecker splayed for inspection, diagrammatic renderings of a heart, a Muybridge-style galloping elk, and meaningless technical legales – these ghost-like symbols and words invoke the Western scientific practice of quantifying and measuring the natural world, a precondition for colonialism that devalued Indigenous knowledge systems. With a slashing “X” stroke (reminiscent of Ojibwe four directions), Beam negates this practice and exerts the spiritual dimensions of these symbols. In subsequent work, he repeatedly returned to these and other images to present complex constellations of meaning.

 
Beam, Carl
M'Chigeeng First Nation ON 1943-M'Chigeeng First Nation ON 2005
Make-up of a Bird
around 1979
Watercolour on handmade paper
87.0 x 67.3 cm
Gift of Jane Bisch in memory of her husband, Lance Bisch, 2013
56-016.02

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