Coast Salish

from Wikipedia:

The settlement of non-natives in this region was one of the first for the Pacific Northwest Coast which brought early cultural disruptions much sooner and faster than most of the coast.This made it so a limited quantity of ancient artifacts of the art form were produced, especially compared to amount that exists about other Northwest Coastal art.

The Coast Salish lived in shed-roofed longhouses, large dwellings made from cedar planks and beams, with large extended families living within the house. Platforms around on the inside stood 3 or 4 feet above ground against the wall and were used as sleeping area's. Sometimes large beams on the sides of the longhouse called "House Posts" would be carved or painted depicting ancestors, family history, or supernatural beings. Some longhouses grew to enormous sizes such as one Simon Fraser described in his visit with Sto:lo people with a house measuring 640 feet long and 60 feet wide or another Sḵwx̱wú7mesh longhouse measuring 200 feet long by 60 feet wide where 11 families lived in the house, numbering around 100 people.

Among Coast Salish in the central region, the sxwayxwey (Sx̱wáýx̱way or Skwayskway in other languages) mask ceremony is an important part of the culture. Men from families who have the hereditary right to be initiated into the sxwayxwey society and wear the mask, and perform dance with the addition of women singers and a special song. The masks themselves have budged out cylindrical eyeballs, “horns” represented by animal heads, and drooping tongues with large feathers creating a dynamic crown. They are accompanied by special regalia covered with feathers and leggings with hoof rattles attached.

Wool from mountain goat and a now extinct dog were used to craft wool woven mats, blankets, clothing, and robes. The wool would be taken from the animals and then mixed with a dichotomous earth clay removing oils and adding a white colour. After wetting, the wool would be twisted between the palm and thigh to create a loose strand, after which was spun. Whorls were placed on the wood shafts, the spindles, and the loose strands of wool were spun. Some of the circular spindle whorl would be plain, but others would have elaborate designs and beings depicted.

Blankets, mats, and robes were woven on looms which were made up of two upright bars and were attached to two horizontal rollers. Some loom poles were also carved with figures illustrating supernatural characters or family history. Specially design coombs were used during the process of preparing the wool, but also in pushing the weft in the weaving technique. Although the smaller textiles were often functional, many larger robes served as indicators of wealth.

House posts, grave monuments, masks, ritual paraphernalia such as rattles, and women crafted woven robes, some plain, some elaborately coloured. Rattles made from sheets of mountain-goat horn bent and then sewn to form volumetric triangles originally adorned with strands of mountain-goat wool.

The art form is used in spindle whorls, house posts, welcome figures, combs, bent wood boxes, canoes, and other cultural objects.

Coast Salish art has undergone a revival in recent years. One person involved in the revival is Sḵwx̱wú7mesh artist Aaron Nelson-Moody. In 2005 he carved a large cedar door to be used at the BC-Canada Pavilion in the 2006 Turin Olympic Game.
Cowichan artist Edward Joe, who has adapted the Coast Salish art form into fine jewelry and prints, says "(Coast) Salish art has as smooth slowing motion intended to create a calm mood. The stories, legends, and myths are depicted in many of my art pieces. Animals from the land, sea, and sky are designed in a playful manner."

On October 24, 2008, the Seattle Art Museum opened "S'abadeb—The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists", a Coast Salish art exhibition from 75 works of art from national and international collections of both traditional and contemporary artists.

Jeffrey Veregge

Primary Medium(s): 

My origins are not supernatural, nor have they been enhanced by radioactive spiders. I am simply a Native American artist, whose creative mantra in best summed up with a word from my tribe's own language as: "taʔčaʔx̣ʷéʔtəŋ" which means "get into trouble".

A member of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, I was raised and spent a majority of my life on our reservation known locally as Little Boston, which is located near Kingston, Washington. Although I am enrolled there, I am also both of Suquamish and Duwamish tribal ancestry.

I am a honor graduate from the Art Institute of Seattle, and I have had the privilege to study with Tsimshian master carver David Boxley for a short time learning the basics of Salish form-line design. For the past 10 years I have been employed as Lead Designer/Studio Manager
for a media agency that specializes in Non-Profits.

Louie Gong

Primary Medium(s): 

Louie Gong is an educator, activist, and artist who was raised by his grandparents in the Nooksack tribal community. He is the past President of MAVIN, co-developer of the Mixed Heritage Center, and a former child and family therapist. Louie is also the founder of Eighth Generation, through which he merges traditional Coast Salish art and icons from popular culture to make strong statements about identity, such as his highly sought-after, hand-drawn custom shoes. Louie’s latest creation is called “Mockups”, a DIY design toy based on his work with youth and his desire to a make the experience of personalizing a pair of shoes more accessible.

Louie is proud to have represented his family and community through keynote level presentations and custom shoe workshops around the world, as well as in media such as NBC Nightly News, The New York Times,, and Indian Country Today. His unique merger of art and activism is the subject of UNRESERVED: the Work of Louie Gong, a Longhouse Media film that is currently screening at prestigious film festivals around the world, including Festival De Cannes and National Geographic’s All Roads Film Festival.

Susan Point

Primary Medium(s): 

Susan Point, of Coast Salish descent, began her artistic career with studies at Vancouver Community College, British Columbia; and has continued to expand her repertoire to include studies in engraving, metallurgy, metal deformation, printmaking, painting, papermaking, and more. A prolific artist, Point has been the focus of many solo exhibitions in Canada and the United States. Among the sites for the many public commissions she has been awarded are Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia, and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

"In creating a visual piece of art, it is my hands, my heart, and my soul that is involved, all working together within a language that knows no words."

"Although most of my earlier work is very traditional, over these last years I have emerged with a language of design both authentic yet vibrantly contemporary; expressing my own personal style, however, I still incorporate my ancestral design elements into my work to keep it uniquely Salish."

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