May 8 to June 9, 1991
Images of animals predate any other art forms yet discovered. With a few exceptions, the world’s earliest art is associated with the hunting economy, and was used for its religious or totemic significance. Man was expressing himself in a pictorial fashion that shows remarkable sophistication.
The animals were recognized as providers of life, and as such became manifestations of “supreme beings” or the “life force.” Man’s intimate knowledge of wildlife, necessary for his survival, has played a significant part in the development of art as we know it. By using a tremendous feat of abstraction men were able to fix the world of their experience, rendering the continuing process of life in shapes that had the identity and meaning that were their prey.
No matter what their reason for being, the early images depict the history of man’s imagination and creative power. Today we continue to depict, explore and celebrate our natural environment and its inhabitants through art.
The relationship between European Canadians and an abundant wildlife has been a long and powerful one. Animals were first regarded simply as an unlimited source of food, hides, and fur, or in some cases, as an expendable nuisance (wolves, insects, etc.)
The exploration of animals played an important role in the exploration and settlement of our wilderness. Yet slowly, over the years, many of us have come to regard animals with respect and admiration that our earliest ancestors felt for them. More and more we are realizing that wildlife is a vital aspect of our attention and protection.
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