Luke Parnell | Starlight

Luke Parnell | Starlight

July 20 to September 10, 2023

La Guilde is proud to present the exhibition Starlight by established artist Luke Parnell. The multidisciplinary artist delves into the relationship between oral histories and Indigenous artistic practices on the Northwest Coast, particularly interested in exploring narratives of transformation. Using woodworking, silkscreening, performance or even video, his work is a vehicle for storytelling, regularly evoking deeply personal experiences. In the exhibition Starlight, Luke Parnell shares the narrative that defines Northwest Coast communities, often telling his own story.

From Haida and Nisga'a perspectives, "stories" should not be taken lightly. They form a precious cultural heritage belonging to specific peoples and are not always destined to be shared on a large scale. Sensitive to this issue, Luke Parnell chooses to present them without revealing their full complexity. His delicate way of offering these narratives while carefully using universally understood signs and symbols makes him a skilled storyteller. While his works are accessible to all, a full understanding of their stories depends on one's knowledge of Northwest Coast Indigenous cultures.

Exhibition view, Starlight - Luke Parnell
Exhibition view, Screen Forms Silkscreen Series - Luke Parnell
Exhibition view, installation Repeat The Chorus Three Times- Luke Parnell
Exhibition view, works Starlight and Remediation - Luke Parnell

The exhibition title refers to the cruel "Starlight tours" carried out by police forces in which Indigenous people are moved by car at night before being left to their own devices in the middle of nowhere. The expression—which may seem poetic if one does not understand its true meaning—reflects Luke Parnell's intention: the tale ultimately serves to convey often painful realities.

Whether in the Screen Forms silkscreen series, Remediation, or Repeat The Chorus Three Times, his iconography is inexorably linked to experience, fragments of life put into storytelling. His works evoke themes of self-discovery, generational trauma, and grief. Through intertwining traditional and contemporary symbolism, Luke Parnell invites you to enter his narrative worlds.

About the artist

Wilp Laxgiik Nisga’a on his mother’s side and Haida from his father’s, Luke Parnell is a renowned artist born in Prince Rupert (BC). He completed a traditional apprenticeship with a Master Northwest Coast Indigenous carver before obtaining his BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design (Toronto, ON) and MAA from Emily Carr University of Arts (Vancouver, BC). The artist now lives and works in Toronto and teaches at OCAD since 2017. Luke Parnell’s work has been most recently exhibited at Macaulay & Co. Fine Art for his first inaugural solo exhibition in 2022.


La Guilde would like to thank Macaulay & Co. Fine Art for lending the works in this exhibition.

Images: Luke Parnell, Starlight, exhibition views, 2023. ©La Guilde