Curated by Heather Anderson: Presented in collaboration with the NAC’s Northern Scene
02 April – 02 June 2013
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Dawson City was founded in 1897 during the Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1899) near the site of Tr’ochëk, a Hän fishing camp used by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation at the meeting point of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers. At its peak in 1898, 40,000 people lived there, but today it is home to 1,300 residents.
The present economic crisis and faltering confidence in monetary currency have sent the price of gold soaring, luring fifty new gold-exploration companies to Dawson City in recent years, and dramatically increasing the number of claims staked. Throughout the Yukon there are 140 “mom and pop” operations sluicing “placer” gold—the flakes and nuggets that can be found in creek gravel—but the quest for hard-rock gold buried in the bedrock is mostly speculative, spurring the collection of soil samples all over the Klondike hills.
But there are other kinds of gold to be found in Dawson City. Over the last decade, a kind of artistic alchemy has resulted from the combination of the town’s unique culture, the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture’s Artist in Residence Program and recently founded Yukon School of Visual Art, and the influx of hundreds of artists who have come seeking to experience life in this remote community. Dawson Gold presents works made in and about Dawson City by four such artists: Allison Hrabluik, Valerie Salez, Zin Taylor, and Tom Wolseley.
Salez, a periodic Dawson City resident, and Wolseley, an artist from London, UK, create intimate and unexpected portraits of some of the town’s “characters.” Hrabluik’s and Taylor’s works point to the persistent allure of a remote and mythic “North,” our desire to belong, and the increasingly mobile nature of the globalized art world.
Temporarily integrating themselves into Dawson City’s social fabric, each of these four artists responded to this distinctive place by creating works grounded in their own experience. Like the many before them lured by the prospect of gold, these four artists, and their works, share the rewards of the experiences they found there.
Dawson Gold is presented in collaboration with the NAC’s Northern Scene, and supported by Yukon Tourism and Culture and the Yukon Government’s Culture Quest Program.