The Return - Salmon Imagery in Northwest Coast Art
We are proud to present our new exhibition, The Return: Salmon Imagery in Northwest Coast art.
This exhibition is inspired by the seemingly simple salmon however the importance of salmon in First Nations culture is fundamental. Andy Everson eloquently summarizes, “People often ask me why I keep including salmon in my artwork. The answer to this lies with the importance of salmon to me, my relatives and my ancestors. Put simply, salmon was the vital link between mere survival and the development of the splendor of our culture.”
Today the diminishing numbers of salmon returning to their parent streams is headline news and of concern to everyone. Historically, there are many examples of coastal First Nations employing conservation techniques but most importantly First Nations people held the core belief in taking only as much as needed.
We asked Northwest Coast artists to create works inspired by salmon and were thrilled with the beautiful works that were created. Some works, like Luke Marston’s Salmon People Rattle and his sister Angela Marston’s Salmon paddle, revolve around the salmon ceremony that celebrates the return of the first salmon of the season. Gary Minaker-Russ carved a totem pole in argillite that illustrates the Haida myth of Raven Boy releasing the salmon into the streams of Haida Gwaii. Other works depict the cycle of life in the natural world which salmon are a vital link, such as Bill Henderson’s totemic Eagle and Salmon.
Salmon have been revered for their epic journey which inspires in all of us the possibility of renewal.
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