Susan Point

Photo: Susan Cole

Susan Point

Musqueam, Canadian, born 1951

Susan, born in 1952, is a Coast Salish Indian from the Musqueam Reserve in
Vancouver. She immersed herself in the study of traditional Coast Salish art, and
emerged with a language of design both authentic yet vibrantly contemporary.
Like many native artists, she uses the form and meaning found in traditional art to
create innovative work in a wide range of mediums. In 1980, Susan opened a
studio and created her first works in silver and gold. She has produced limited
edition graphics, woodblock prints, serigraphs, glass etchings, handmade paper
castings, textile and fashion prints. She has also designed and made patterns for
cast iron sculpture as well as concrete Bas relief sculpture. Susan stated: .. My
use of traditional elements has become second nature to me - like an alphabet -
helping me to describe any image I wish. When doing contemporary expressions
such as acrylics on canvass, I become more illustrative, but I always integrate my
ancestral Coast Salish elements into the work. I feel the role of native art is to
continuously evolve, to express the cultural beliefs and changes of its community
now and in the future ... One of the most common element is the circular design
from the Coast Salish whorls used in spinning. The elaborately designed whorls
were carved by men for women to use invoke feminine images and
whirling/tornado like energy. But there is no history as to the meaning of the
designs. After copying designs of museum pieces, Susan developed her own
designs. For a short while she signed her work as Susan A. Sparrow but then she
returned to using her maiden name. The Coast Salish art from the lower Canadian
mainland and southeastern Vancouver Island is not very familiar and their are few
examples of it in the museum collections. Artist involved in recreating the style in
addition to Susan are Charles Elliot, Stan Green and Rod Modest. Susan Point
has become one of the most innovative artists of her generation as well as being a
leading traditional artist. Starting in the Coast Salish style in the 80's, she adapted
the style to works in glass with critical success. Her scale has grown and she
worked recently with Robert Davidson on monumental commission for the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police. Another monumental piece is at the Vancouver
International Airport.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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