Show Preview | Emergence

Friday Harbor, WA
San Juan Islands Museum of Art, through September 4

Raven Skyriver, Flux, glass, 16 x 10 x 26.

Raven Skyriver, Flux, glass, 16 x 10 x 26.

This story was featured in the July 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  July 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Emergence: Legendary and Emerging First Nation Artists is the first exhibition of its kind at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art. It is devoted to the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and the Inuit from the Hudson Bay area. The show features a new generation of more than 30 First Nation artists, represented by works from five different private collections. The show is on display through September 4.

More than 70 pieces of art make up the show, including about 21 Inuit sculptures and prints, eight large, freestanding wall panels, five glass pieces, one bronze sculpture, and various other works. The exhibition gallery has been transformed into a replica of a longhouse, a style of residential dwelling built by Northwest Coast indigenous peoples. Instead of walking into an ordinary-looking museum, viewers can experience art suspended in the air, lined walls to reflect the housing structure, and music to mimic the true atmosphere of a longhouse.

Diane Martindale, a member of the museum’s board of directors, says this show is unique because the works all come from private collections—which most viewers never get to see. “It will be striking if you’ve never seen this style of art before,” Martindale says. “It almost always has a story to tell because the art can represent the spirit, water, human, or land worlds, and the transitions between them.” Martindale describes some of the pieces as “puzzles” that visitors can examine to interpret the artist’s meaning. Featured artists in the show include Beau Dick of the Kwakwaka’wakw, Susan Point of the Coast Salish, Tim Paul of the Nuu-chah-nulth-Hesquiaht, and Kananginak Pootoogook and Mathew Saviadjuk of the Inuit-Cape Dorset.

There is also an educational aspect to the show: Rande Cook of the Kwakwaka’wakw, part of the Pacific Northwest Coast indigenous peoples, gives an artist’s talk and gallery walk on July 23. Held in Brickworks, a historic brickmaking building in the heart of Friday Harbor, Cook discusses his work and his culture’s history of art. —Katie Askew

contact information
360.370.5050
www.sjima.org

This story was featured in the July 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  July 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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