Jack Butler | StoryBones

Jack Butler

January 10–February 17, 2013
Public Reception: January 10, 7-9:30 pm,  Art Crawl: January 11, 7-11pm

Hamilton Artists Inc. presents an exhibition of works by eminent Canadian artist Jack Butler on the subjects of “north,” “money” and “sex.” This collection of works from 1969-2012 is the first major overview of Butler’s practice.  Butler has witnessed historic transformations in the national landscape including the transition of the Inuit from a barter to a monetary economy and the compensated inclusion of Inuit artists’ work within contemporary art collections.

He explores concepts of money and economy in relation to his own life in the work My earliest memory of money is selling flower seeds door to door, as well as his visual observations as a member of Art and Cold Cash, an artists’ collective emerging from Qamanituaq (Baker Lake), Nunavut. In regard to his experience of living and working in Baker Lake, Butler states: “Certainly, if North is coterminous with the transnational circumpolar region where I worked collaboratively with Inuit artists since 1969, and from which I descend (from Northern Scandinavian Sami through a Swedish grandfather); or if North references the Great White North alive in the Canadian imaginary, then it serves as a general context. But North is neither a single place nor a unitary idea.”

Fourteen large ‘red’ drawings bring to light the intimacy of transformation best described under the title ‘Graphing My Coming Out as Queer.’ Indeed, this exhibition maps out multiple definitions of ‘money,’ ‘north’ and ‘sex’ which converge in a web of narratives both personal and communal, where Butler ‘plays’ the ancient StoryBones game based on visual imagery of the Inuit storytelling tradition.


Jack Butler‘s hybrid practice uses the means and methods of visual art to produce research in two domains – medical science (embryogenesis primary research), and collaborations with Inuit artists (the current project, Art & Cold Cash). With degrees in visual art and philosophy, Butler exhibits internationally with work in public and private collections including the National Gallery of Canada.

An exhibition catalogue produced by Hamilton Artists Inc. includes a collaborative essay by Jack Butler and the Inc.’s Programming Director Irene Loughlin, and an essay by Robert Labossière on the history and context of Butler’s extensive practice.

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