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The Transforming Image: Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations


  • Medium: softcover
  • Size: 9 × 10.75 inches, 291 pages
  • Reference Code: DM2000-01


“An incredible archive of paintings by Northwest Coast artists, allowing the viewer to explore the creativity, energy, and depths these artists have achieved.”
— Robert Davidson, artist

“What [are] being revealed to us are [among] the great masterpieces not only of the Northwest Coast, but of the whole world.”
— Bill Reid, artist

Curator Bill McLennan often walked past a nineteenth-century Northwest Coast painted chest at the Museum of Anthropology. Struck by the artifact’s dynamic character, he photographed it with infrared film for closer study. The results were startling: painted areas that had been obscured with a patina of oils and soot emerged from beneath the weathered surface and could now be clearly seen. With this find, the Image Recovery Project—to develop a database of infrared photographs of Northwest Coast paintings—was born.

The Transforming Image brings together some of the most intriguing images, many revealed for the first time in over a hundred years. Karen Duffek’s text adds new insights derived from the project, linking painted images to communities, histories, and individual painters. This book helps current generations of Northwest Coast First Nations access the creative achievements of their ancestors and build on the cultural knowledge that the old paintings reveal.

Bill McLennan / Karen Duffek

Bill McLennan is a Projects Manager and Curator for the UBC Museum of Anthropology. In 1980, he originated the Image Recovery Project from which “The Transforming Image” was developed.

Spirit Wrestler Gallery

101-1669 West 3rd Ave.
Vancouver, BC
Canada V6J 1K1

Toll Free: 1-888-669-8813
Phone: 604-669-8813


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