Who is Emily Carr?

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Emily Carr Biography & Facts

Emily Carr (December 13, 1871 – March 2, 1945) was a Canadian artist and writer who was inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the painters in Canada to adopt a Modernist and Post-Impressionist style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until she changed her subject matter from Aboriginal themes to landscapes — forest scenes in particular, evoking primeval grandeur. As a writer Carr was one of the earliest chroniclers of life in British Columbia. The Canadian Encyclopedia describes her as a "Canadian icon". Early life Born in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1871, the year British Columbia joined Canada, Emily Carr was the second-youngest of nine children born to English parents Richard and Emily (Saunders) Carr. The Carr home was on Birdcage Walk (now Government Street), in the James Bay district of Victoria, a short distance from the legislative buildings (nicknamed the 'Birdcages') and the town itself. The Carr children were raised on English tradition. Her father believed it was sensible to live on Vancouver Island, a colony of Great Britain, where he could practice English customs and continue his British citizenship. The family home was made up in lavish English fashion, with high ceilings, ornate moldings, and a parlor. Carr was taught in the Presbyterian tradition, with Sunday morning prayers and evening Bible readings. Her father called on one child per week to recite the sermon, and Emily consistently had trouble reciting it.Carr's mother died in 1886, and her father died in 1888. Her oldest sister Edith Carr became the guardian of the rest of the children.Carr's father encouraged her artistic inclinations, but it was only in 1890, after her parents' deaths, that Carr pursued her art seriously. She studied at the San Francisco Art Institute for two years (1890–92) before returning to Victoria. In 1899 Carr traveled to London, where she studied at the Westminster School of Art. Carr also visited the Nootka Indian mission at Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island in 1898. She traveled also to a rural art colony in St Ives, Cornwall, returning to British Columbia in 1905. Carr took a teaching position in Vancouver at the 'Ladies Art Club' that she held for no longer than a month – she was unpopular amongst her students due to her rude behavior of smoking and cursing at them in class, and the students began to boycott her courses. First works on Indigenous people In 1898, at age 27, Carr made the first of several sketching and painting trips to Aboriginal villages. She stayed in a village near Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island, home to the Nuu-chah-nulth people, then commonly known to English-speaking people as 'Nootka'. Carr recalled that her time in Ucluelet made "a lasting impression on me". Her interest in Indigenous life was reinforced by a trip to Alaska nine years later with her sister Alice. In 1912, Carr took a sketching trip to First Nations' villages in Haida Gwaii, the Upper Skeena River, and Alert Bay. Even though Carr left the villages of the Pacific Northwest, the impact of the people stayed with her. Carr adopted the Indigenous name Klee Wyck and she also chose it as the title of one of her works of writings.In 1913, Carr held a large exhibition of her work of First Nations villages and poles in their original setting. Her lecture on the totems is in the Emily Carr Papers, BC Archives, Victoria. In the lecture, she said: ...every pole shown in my collection has been studied from its own actual reality... Work in France Determined to further her knowledge of the age's evolving artistic trends, in 1910 Carr returned to Europe to study at the Académie Colarossi in Paris. In Montparnasse with her sister Alice, Emily Carr met modernist painter Harry Gibb with a letter of introduction. Upon viewing his work, she and her sister were shocked and intrigued by his use of distortion and vibrant color; she wrote: "Mr Gibb's landscapes and still life delighted me — brilliant, luscious, clean. Against the distortion of his nudes I felt revolt." Carr's study with Gibb and his techniques shaped and influenced her style of painting, and she adopted a vibrant color palette rather than continuing with the pastel colors of her earlier British training. Carr was greatly influenced by the Post-Impressionists and the Fauvists she met and studied with in France. After returning home in 1912, she organized an exhibition in her studio of seventy watercolors and oils representative of her time there. She was the first artist to introduce Fauvism to Vancouver.Return to Canada In March 1912 Carr opened a studio at 1465 West Broadway in Vancouver. When locals failed to support her radical new style, bold colour palette and lack of detail, she closed the studio and returned to Victoria. In the summer of 1912, Carr again traveled north, to Haida Gwaii and the Skeena River, where she documented the art of the Haida, Gitxsan and Tsimshian. At Cumshewa, a Haida village on Moresby Island, she wrote: Cumshewa seems always to drip, always to be blurred with mist, its foliage always to hang wet-heavy ... these strong young trees ... grew up round the dilapidated old raven, sheltering him from the tearing winds now that he was old and rotting ... the memory of Cumshewa is of a great lonesomeness smothered in a blur of rain. Emily Carr, Klee Wyck. Carr painted a carved raven, which she later developed as her iconic painting Big Raven. Tanoo, another painting inspired by work gathered on this trip, depicts three totems before house fronts at the village of the same name. On her return to the south, Carr organized an exhibit of some of this work. She gave a detailed lecture about the Aboriginal villages that she had visited, which ended with her mission statement: I glory in our wonderful west and I hope to leave behind me some of the relics of its first primitive greatness. These things should be to us Canadians what the ancient Briton's relics are to the English. Only a few more years and they will be gone forever into silent nothingness and I would gather my collection together before they are forever past. While there was some positive reaction to her work, even in the new 'French' style, Carr perceived that Vancouver's reaction to her work and new style was not positive enough to support her career. She recounted as much in her book Growing Pains. She was determined to give up teaching and working in Vancouver, and in 1913 she returned to Victoria, where several of her sisters still lived.During the next 15 years, Carr did little painting. She ran a boarding house known as the 'House of All Sorts'. It was the namesake and provided source material for her later book. With her financial circumstances straitened and her life in Victoria circumscribed, Carr painted a few works in this period drawn from local scenes: the cliffs at Dallas Road, the trees in Beacon Hill Park. Her own as.... Discover the Emily Carr popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Emily Carr books.

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