As an artist, I have been very fortunate to draw from a rich legacy of a traditional visual language. My Salish ancestors bestowed upon their future generations the gift of a powerful culture, rooted in the teaching of respect for all life, and passed down through legends and oral traditions, and supported by a diverse visual treasure of art. One of the aspects of my traditional Coast Salish art that has especially intrigued me again and again is probably what distinguished Salish imagery apart from other powerful indigenous art of the northwest coast. Unlike other distinct native nations of the northwest coast, Salish motifs of animal forms, mythical creatures and human figures were in proportionate scale (i.e. head and body in proportion to each other [life like]). This realistic or natural attempt to the imagery I feel left less restrictions or shall I say created a more open approach without a rigid discipline to adhere to although Salish design elements seldom varied … those being typically “crescent, wedge and u-forms.” I think this is why there are so many personal interpretations of certain subjects illustrated in the ancient objects that still remain from the past. I have attempted to honour some of the individual expressions with respect to the Thunderbird that reflects the ancestral artistic diversity of my people. This image is an original interpretation inspired by motifs found on old pieces (spindle whorls, matt creasers, petroglyphs, etc.) that I have researched. Although original in design, it is also a reflection based on traditional formats explored by Salish artists long ago… profoundly depicting the legends and stories about the Thunderbird… the Thunderbird being the most powerful and a protector.
Coast Salish (Musqueam)
Susan began making limited edition prints on her kitchen table in 1981 while working as a legal secretary. She received several early commissions, which established her reputation for innovative proposals and for completing projects on time, on budget and at the highest level. She took courses in silver, casting and carving, all of which led to monumental sculptures in mixed media, and she was the first Northwest Coast artist to work in glass. She continues to release a number of print editions each year, but her focus has been on commissioned sculpture.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery
101-1669 West 3rd Ave.
Canada V6J 1K1
Toll Free: 1-888-669-8813
one block West of the Granville Island gates
Between Pine St. and Fir St.
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