Dean Drever, Pass the Hat (paper),2013.Pape. 15’ 9” x 41” x 41”.Collection of Miriam Shiell and Leon Liffmann, promised gift to the AGA. Installation view of Dean Drever: Pass the Hat, Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, 2022.Photography by Charles Cousins, courtesy of the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Dean Drever’s Pass the Hat is 16 feet and made of 10,686 pieces of paper. It is a documentation of the strength of the Haida First Nation while addressing its fragility due to colonial practices of oppression.
Pass the Hat (paper) reconstitutes traditional totem pole construction through contemporary industrial processes. It does the same with industrial and digital processes themselves by transposing the subordinate position of culture to technology. In this way it encompasses and addresses changing practices and points to the interpenetration of industry and culture, imagination and reason.
"Totems sustain and relay cultural narratives and stories of clan lineage, history and family. The bear and the thunderbird are illustrative symbols of power and domination, but they are also symbols of resistance and responsibility. I am interested in documenting the strength of the enduring symbols of my culture, while at the same time, addressing its fragility due to colonial practices of oppression," says Drever.
Pass the Hat (paper) communicates the ephemeral and lasting nature of ideology, narrative, and the variations method and form can both take and give to ritual and story.
“I am the thunderbird who is placing a Watchman’s hat upon the head of the bear/human, who is my daughter. As I pass the hat to her, I am giving my knowledge of our culture and lineage. I am telling her where she came from; I am sharing the ways in which we communicate and express ourselves through art. As I give myself to her, she becomes the thunderbird, the watchman, and the bear all at once. She becomes responsible for carrying on the traditions of our family. As she watches over her generation, I watch over her," says Drever.
Organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta and curated by Catherine Crowston, this exhibition is presented by the Capital Power Indigenous Art Fund.
Curious about how we assemble the 16-foot installation made of 10,686 pieces of paper? Check out this time lapse video.