In a gorgeously illustrated exploration of the art of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Mischief Making disproves any notion that play is frivolous. Deploying playful and punning tactics, Yahgulanaas shines a spotlight on serious topics.
Expressive and exuberant, comic and imaginative: these characteristics suffuse the work of the internationally recognized creator of Haida manga. His distinctive style stretches, twists, and flips the formlines of classic Haida art to create imagery that resonates with the graphic vitality of Asian manga. Mischief Making delineates the evolution of the artist’s visual practice into a uniquely hybrid aesthetic, uncovering its philosophical underpinnings. Initially focused on paper-based narratives, his work has expanded into painted canvases, mixed-media installations, repurposed automobile parts, large-scale public art projects, and animated forms. Yet despite its mutability, Yahgulanaas’s art is consistently engaged with contemporary cultural concerns, investigating the intersections of Indigenous and other world views, the politics of land, cultural heritage, and global ecological affairs.
Mischief Making reveals the artist’s deep understanding of the seriousness of play. His refiguring of lines and stories opens up a realm in which the disruption of what’s expected allows different ways of experiencing, knowing, and seeing the world to emerge.
Nicola Levell is a curator and an associate professor of museum and visual anthropology at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of The Marvellous Real: Art from Mexico, 1926–2011 and editor of Bodies of Enchantment: Puppets from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, both publications stemming from exhibitions she curated. She has held curatorial positions at the Horniman Museum in London and the Royal Pavilion Art Gallery and Museums in Brighton.
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is a visual artist and author. Influenced by both Haida iconography and contemporary Asian visual culture, he is the creator of Haida manga, an artistic genre that crosses cultures and disciplines. His books include RED: A Haida Manga; Flight of the Hummingbird: A Parable for the Environment; A Tale of Two Shamans; and Hachidori. Yahgulanaas has a long history of environmental activism and political engagement.
Foreword / Jonathan King
Haida Goes Pop! Playing with Formlines
Cool Media: The Art of Telling Tales
Culturally Modified: Precious Metals, Cars and Crests
Visual Jazz: The Adaptability of Forms
List of Works
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