Bill Reid Gallery's 'RezErect' Shows Native Erotica (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

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RezErect: Native Erotica, a new exhibition at the Bill Reid Gallery, explores the saucier side of First Nations art.
RezErect: Native Erotica, a new exhibition at the Bill Reid Gallery, explores the saucier side of First Nations art.

Sexuality has featured in Northwest Coast art for centuries, but rarely as explicitly and naughtily as it does today.

That much is obvious from "RezErect: Native Erotica," an exhibit at Vancouver's Bill Reid Gallery that explores the saucier side of indigenous artistry.

The show, which drew over 200 people at its Tuesday opening, features works by 28 native artists from the Northwest Coast and central Canada including Nicholas Galanin, Shawn Hunt and Alida Kinnie Starr.

Works on display include a "hotbox" covered in fur and pink on the inside, edible panties and a headdress sporting an erect phallus.

Check out images of "RezErect: Native Erotica." The story continues below the slideshow:

RezErect: Native Erotica
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While it may seem bawdy and humourous on the surface, the exhibit is also intended as a serious response to depictions of native sexuality in the media, said Gwaai Edenshaw, who is curating the exhibit alongside fellow Haida artist Kwiaahwah Jones.

"When we talk about native sexuality, it's usually to do with missing women or residential school survivors," he told The Huffington Post B.C.

"I think that those are all important elements of our being, but they're just not the only element."

Edenshaw expects one particular work to shock people:

"There's a piece by Robin Lovelace-Smith and it's called 'Tool,' and it's designed after the quite phallic stone tools that you find historically up and down the coast," he said.

"She has created a hermaphroditic answer to that, so something that has both male and female genitalia."

Eroticism in Northwest Coast art has evolved a great deal from ancient forms, Edenshaw said.

In the past, nudity didn't seem erotic because indigenous men typically went about their days naked. Many ancient pieces don't even depict sexual organs.

"That's one way that it would be very different between now and then, because native people now are as affected by the world we live in as everybody else," Edenshaw said.

Other works featured at "RezErect" include a portrait of a naked woman wearing a native mask, as well as a graffiti piece that depicts the mythical Raven tricking a woman into having sex with him.

"RezErect" runs at the Bill Reid Gallery until Feb. 16, 2014.

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