The Raven’s Call (www.theravenscall.ca available in plain HTML and enhanced Flash version) is the permanent online exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Bill Reid. As mentioned on Wikipedia, William Ronald Reid (as a Canadian artist whose works included jewelry, sculpture and painting. He was born to an American father of Scottish-German descent and a mother from the Haida First Nation. He developed a keen interest in Haida art while working as a radio announcer in Toronto, where he also studied jewelry making, having first learnt about his heritage from his maternal grandfather, who had himself been trained by Charles Edenshaw, a famous Haida artist.

In 1951, he returned to Vancouver and became greatly interested in the works of Edenshaw, working to understand the symbolism of his work, much of which had been lost along with the many Haida traditions. During this time he also worked on salvaging artifacts, including many intricately carved totem poles which were then moldering in abandoned village sites, and aided in the partial reconstruction of a village in the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology. Working in the traditional forms and modern media (usually gold, silver and argillite), he began by making jewelry before branching into larger sculptures in bronze, red cedar and Nootka Cypress (yellow cedar) usually portraying figures, animals, and scenes from folklore, as well as assisting in the preservation of the accompanying mythology.

His most magnificent works are three large bronze sculptures, two depicting a canoe filled with human and animal figures: one black, The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC, in the United States and one green, The Jade Canoe, at Vancouver International Airport, in British Columbia and the third Chief of the Undersea World, depicting a breaching orca, at the Vancouver Aquarium. Plaster casts of these scultures exist at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in Ottawa, Canada.

His work is featured on the $20 note in the Bank of Canada’s new Canadian Journey (2004) issue paired with a quotation from author Gabrielle Roy.

The Raven’s Call offers over 200 of Reid’s works in a variety of media from jewelry to prints and sculptures from the Bill Reid Foundation collection, partner institutions and private collections. Visitors can view Haida author and artist Mike Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ animation of a short story by Bill Reid that both Reid and Yahgulanaas left open-ended, and then upload their own story endings to the site.

The project was developed by the Bill Reid Foundation and 7th Floor Media, in partnership with the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) at virtualmuseum.ca, an initiative of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

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