Emily Carr’s 1929 painting “Indian Church” is a stunning depiction of the Pacific Northwest landscape and indigenous culture. The oil-on-canvas artwork measures 108.6 x 68.9 cm and portrays a dense forest that engulfs a church, standing out in vivid white against the dark background. Its vertical lines draw the viewer’s eye upwards, enhancing its already significant size.
The artwork now goes by the name “Church at Yuquot” after it was exhibited at Ontario’s Art Gallery; however, it goes down in history as “Indian Church.” Emily Carr is widely known for her work on Canadian landscapes and First Nations people’s cultural representations, becoming a national heroine.
The forest signifies the resilience of indigenous spiritual practices despite their decreasing population size, with Indian Church showcasing not only their deep connection to nature but also how entrenched their religious beliefs were within colonial architecture.
From an artistic perspective, Carr’s post-Impressionist work combined contrasting white hues with stark greens and browns that give Indian Church an otherworldly feel. The canvas provides depth through its emphasized texture of tree trunks creating drama in this familiar yet strange setting.