Sonny Assu, Longing #10, 2011. Found cedar and brass, 12.3 x 13 x 9 in.

Sonny Assu

West Vancouver, Canada

West Vancouver Museum

Sonny Assu, an Aboriginal artist from Vancouver, is gaining attention for his reversal of early 20th-century art history. More than 100 years after Western artists “advanced” art by looking “back” at Aboriginal culture, Assu is turning to Western art to modernize Aboriginal traditions of the Northwest Coast. His sculptures are simple, found objects, off-cuts of raw cedar from the production of luxury log homes. Concave in back, flat-sided, truncated wedges in front, these remnants are unavoidably mask-like: the flat frontal plane configures forehead, nose, and chin; center rings and knots make eyes; cracks open into mouths. Assu’s works share a generalized form, like faces smoothed and distorted by a stocking, but they are distinct enough to convey specific character. …see the entire review in the print version of September’s Sculpture magazine.