Sonny Assu

Sonny Assu

A Selective History

By (artist): Sonny Assu
Foreword by: Janet Rogers
ISBN 9781772031706
Softcover | Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Book Dimensions: 8.5 in x 10 in
224 Pages

About the Book

A stunning retrospective highlighting the playfulness, power, and subversive spirit of Northwest Coast Indigenous artist Sonny Assu.

Through large-scale installation, sculpture, photography, printmaking, and painting, Sonny Assu merges the aesthetics of Indigenous iconography with a pop-art sensibility. This stunning retrospective spans over a decade of Assu’s career, highlighting more than 120 full-colour works, including several never-before-exhibited pieces.

Through analytical essays and personal narratives, Richard Van Camp, Marianne Nicolson, Candice Hopkins, and Ellyn Walker provide brilliant commentary on Assu’s practice, its meaning in the context of contemporary art, and its wider significance in the struggle for Indigenous cultural and political autonomy. Exploring themes of Indigenous rights, consumerism, branding, humour, and the ways in which history informs contemporary ideas and identities, Sonny Assu: A Selective History is the first major full-scale book to pay tribute to this important, prolific, and vibrant figure in the Canadian contemporary art world.

About the Author(s)

Sonny Assu is a Ligwildaxw Kwakwaka’wakw contemporary artist known for combining traditional visual elements of his Northwest Coast heritage with emblems of colonialism and Western consumer culture. His work has been exhibited worldwide and has been accepted into the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Seattle Art Museum, Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Anthropology at UBC, Burke Museum at the University of Washington, the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and various other institutions. He holds a BFA from Emily Carr University and an MFA from Concordia University.


"An opportunity to gain a greater understanding of Assu’s body of work by experts who not only have an analytical understanding of the pieces they discuss, but also know where the artist is 'coming from' — individually, culturally, and conceptually." — Solen Roth, Ormsby Review
"Assu's rise has been swift, his work sure-footed from the start, and he has been prolific in his exploration of installation, sculpture, photography, printmaking and painting. The book’s title, A Selective History, might sound presumptuous for one just edging into his 40s, but it fits both the artist’s personal trajectory and the wrongs of the past that his work confronts." — Portia Priegert, Galleries West Magazine
"This book, an appropriate resource for secondary students, contains many beautiful reproductions of Sonny Assu’s art and several analyses discussing his work. His pieces exhibit several strong influences: pop culture; the reclamation of classic art (Emily Carr and others); and the use of traditional West Coast form lines and media . . . Educators and students will find numerous access points through his bold expressions and the enlightening expositions. This resource offers many opportunities to examine our nation’s beliefs, actions, words, and legislation." — Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools
"Assu's mastery over his craft extends to an aesthetic refusal deeply tied to his ancestral teachings, his family, his territory and his community. With his practice, documented extensively in the anthology, Assu wants you to know that he will always be, at his core, a nerdy-boy troublemaker for his people." — Lindsay Nixon, Canadian Art
"The pieces feel young, brash, modern, and playful, often speaking directly to current First Nations and Canadian politics." — Paul Kuttner, Cultural Organizing
"A necessary addition to . . . contemporary indigenous art in Canada and beyond." — BC Studies