Changing Seasons State I (T-Bird XI)

Part of Thunderbird Series – 12 serigraphs

Ink on paper

26.5” x 26.5’’

Artist/Curatorial Statement

As an artist, I have been very fortunate to draw upon the rich legacy of a traditional visual language. My Salish ancestors bestowed on their future generations the gift of a powerful culture rooted in teaching of respect for all life, passed down through an oral tradition supported by a diverse treasure of visual art.

One aspect of traditional Coast Salish art that has especially intrigued me is what distinguished Salish imagery from other indigenous art forms of the Northwest Coast. Unlike other native nations of the Northwest Coast, Salish motifs of animal forms, mythical creatures and human figures were in proportionate scale (i.e. head and body are in proportion to each other). For me, this naturalist approach to image-making is less restrictive and allows for a more open approach than one based on more rigid discipline, although the basic elements of Salish design seldom varies, typically consisting of “crescent, wedge, and u-forms.” I think this is why there are so many personal interpretations of subjects illustrated in the ancient objects that remain from the past.

I have attempted to honour the unique expressions of the Thunderbird in a series of images that reflect the traditional artistic diversity of my people. This series will eventually include about fifteen images (although infinite possibilities exist). These images are original interpretations inspired by motifs found on old pieces (spindle whorls, matt creasers, petroglyphs, etc.) that I have researched. Although original in design, they reflect traditional formats explored long ago by Salish artists who profoundly depicted legends and stories about the Thunderbird in their unique individual style. Although they vary in style, they collectively show a visual language that is recognizably Salish. I hope these images are interpreted as proud symbols of a living tradition.

So far I have created eleven different Thunderbird images, including Salish Vision (2001), Symbol of Power (2002), Ancestral Guardian (2002), In Both Worlds (2002), Legacy (2003), Salish Spirit (2003), Thunderbird Motif (2010), Indian Summer (2010), Celestial Circles (2010), Power of the Thunderbird (2014), and Changing Seasons I and II (2015). Each has been produced as a print and some as carved and painted panels. The panels are unique to themselves. Although the imagery used in the panels comes from drawings I produced for the prints, the colours, the carving and inclusion of materials such as copper, silver and abalone give the panels a completely different look.

Susan Point

Exhibition(s): Susan Point: Spindle Whorl