This painting, with its deep waves of life-red colour, is a tribute to the Coast Salish tradition of passing knowledge and culture from generation to generation. After European contact and the attempt to assimilate First Nations people into Western culture, much of the language and other vital information held by the elders was nearly lost. But the elders, many of whom are now gone, relied on the strength of their oral traditions, and worked tirelessly with the youngsters to transfer the information to the next generation. “This painting,” says Susan Point, “is dedicated to the elders of my community who instilled within us the values and traditions to ensure the younger generation’s identity and voice. It is now the task of my generation,” she adds, “to remember all that was taught and pass their knowledge and wisdom on to our children.”
Point has created a visual representation of this valued educational process. The faces in Salish Revival, appearing in waves, create a web of community that continues through all time—a chorus of ancestors extending back countless generations. A sense of urgency can be seen in the round, open mouths of the faces as they try to communicate. “This canvas depicts many peoples connected to each other in a common sea of humanity,” Point explains. “All citizens of the earth have their own unique histories. Central in this painting, our voice is emerging proudly.”
—Susan Point as told to Vesta Giles
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