Native Speakers, Workshops at Susan Point Exhibition Starting Sept. 22 in the Western Gallery

The Western Gallery at Western Washington University will host the exhibition “Susan Point Past Present: Cultural Visions in New Media” Sept. 22 through Dec. 3; the exhibition will feature a series of speakers and workshops starting with Musqueam artist Debra Sparrow at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29.

Related events include a demonstration by Lummi glass artist Raya Friday on Oct. 10 at noon; archaeologist Dale Croes and Suquamish master weaver Ed Carriere on Oct. 13 at 5 p.m.; and Lummi master carver Jewell Praying Wolf James on Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. A Nov. 5 symposium (time TBA) will feature four native artists: Daniel Joseph Friday; Joe Seymour, Jr.; Jeffrey Veregge; and Andrea Wilbur-Sigo; and three scholars of Coast Salish heritage: Crisca Bierwert, Bruce Miller, and Chris Friday, who will discuss cultural heritage and artistic innovation.

Susan Point is an artist known for synthesizing her Musqueam Coast Salish heritage with contemporary media. Point translates the vitality, movement, and meaning of traditional Coast Salish art through non-traditional materials and locations. The Western Gallery exhibition highlights Point’s mixed-media work, which exceeds the boundaries of classic Coast Salish aesthetics, challenges the constraints placed on First Nation artists by academics and collectors. Point’s work is displayed throughout historically Coast Salish territory, with large-scale installations throughout Vancouver, British Columbia and the surrounding area.

In the 1980s, Point was instrumental in rejuvenating the Coast Salish design system.  The southern Northwest Coast style had been overshadowed by the bold abstract patterns of northern formline design. Many Coast Salish artists were creating art in the northern formline style, yet Point was inspired by Musqueam oral histories and traditional knowledge.  She began to create art using only Coast Salish design elements: circles, crescents, and trigons.

She has educated and mentored an expanding group of artists who use non-traditional media to convey indigenous thought systems; her students include her children Thomas and Kelly Cannell.  All three artists actively embrace contemporary mediums and modes of expression to transmit their world view and share cultural knowledge both within and outside of their community.

The events and exhibition are free and open to the public. More information about the exhibition, speakers, and visiting campus is online at Call (360) 650-3900 for disability accommodation information, or email The Western Gallery is located within the Fine Arts Building on the WWU campus. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri.; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wed.; and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sat. Free parking is available in the C/CR lots on weekends and after 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Pay-by-the-hour parking is available in selected lots. For more information about guest parking passes, visit 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - 9:38am

"Continuum" by Susan Point

Jewell Praying Wolf James; image courtesy Ashley Verplanck