Embrace the Visionaries

Contemporary works by Emerging Salish Artists
Aboriginal Curator: Rose M. Spahan
November 18, 1999 – January 28, 2000

For the exhibition “Embrace the Visionaries” the curator, Rose M. Spahan, has invited thirteen Salish artists using various media and from various backgrounds. The artists represented are young, emergent, and indigenous. They have bold insights into their experiences of both contemporary and traditional worlds; they are artists with exciting young visions.

Rose has chosen to look at the idea of “the embrace”: to honour the artist of the Salish territories while welcoming the international artists from the Cree Nation and Australian Indigenous Lands who are exhibiting in the parallel exhibit, Four Circles/Soaring Visions.

The thirteen Salish artists are reviving the culture and expressing a continuation of a living, breathing culture. The exhibition of these Salish artists’ will honour the ancient protocol of this land by welcoming and honouring the international artists.

The exhibition is unique in the sense that many of the artists featured are teams; husbands and wife, sisters, and a father and son. The team dynamics bring a family closeness that offers a beautiful reflection of family togetherness and shared respect through art and culture.

In the history of the Gallery and the Museum there has not been a show that honours the new emerging artists coming from various Salish backgrounds, educations, or territories. Our exhibition recognizes the need to honour the Salish because this exhibition is situated on Salish lands. Salish art on the westcoast has been overlooked. Embrace the Visionaries offers thirteen Salishan artists the opportunity to show the diversity of contemporary first nations art as it exists today. The visual commentary of these artists are fresh with a new dynamic view of art in the Salish world.

Embrace the Visionaries presents, thirteen artists aboriginal, personal voices speaking about today’s life and tomorrow’s hope for the millennium. The work does not deal with an disturbing concept but an untroubled, self motivated, curious creative native process. These thirteen emergent Salish artists unfold a vision for the Millennium with Embrace the Visionaries. The unity, strength and integrity of these exciting Salish artists will take us into the next millennium with a new confidence and direction for the future.

Embrace the Visionaries represents artists driven by exploration, responsibility and motivational curiosity. These young emergent artists walk with confidence and a strong identity, bringing traditional backgrounds and contemporary native perspectives to the world.
Floyd Joseph of the Squamish Nation, is a young elder and new Hereditary Chief who uses “Tyee”, his Indian name. Floyd is justly proud of his heritage and determined to record it in his unique way. His skill and style have evolved following formal and informal training as an apprentice with older carvers and as a student at Capilano College.

Charles Elliott of the Saanich/Tsarlip Nation is a multi-talented artist. His carvings, prints and sculptures can be found in Catholic alters in Victoria, on the Common Wealth baton from the games in 1998, in City works such as the Saanich police station, and on the lawn of the Victoria Legislative Building. Charles is an educator and a key holder of Contemporary Salish Arts: he is an artist who teaches and continues the Salish art and culture.

Bradley Dick of Songhees ancestry, is a young educator and artisan, who combines his indigenous iconography with a celtic influence. His diptyches, triptych and mural paintings often become tattoos on the skin of Bradley’s art appreciators.

Rita Louis and Ester R. Bob are sisters from Pauquachin who working together and separately to make Salish weavings in both traditional and contemporary work. Rita has made sweaters for Queen Elizabeth. Ester R. Bob is a dedicated weaver with a contemporary outlook in her traditional installation.

William A. White is (Nanaimo/Cowichan) Art Historian/Photographer who works as an Aboriginal Liaison at the University of Victoria. He also eloquently photographs and documents Salish Elders and important events with Salish peoples.

Rita George-Green (Cowichan) and Joel Green (Lummi-USA) are a husband and wife team whose traditional art work reflects the love, honour and sharing of the Salish of both the American and Canadian heritage.

Barbara P. Marchand (Okanagan) represents contemporary Interior Salish work. Barb is a educator and a multi-talented artist working with multi-media.

Irving Sparrow and Christopher Sparrow are Musqueam Carvers who work together as a father and son team to produce carvings on the Musqueam reserve. They both teach young artists their Salish carving skills.

Rose M. Spahan, the curator of this exhibition, who works with mixed media (Saanich/Lower Nicola) is also a Salish artist whose work bridges the Coast and Interior in Heritage and iconography.

Mark Guerin is a contemporary Musqueam artist whose talent is three-dimensionally based. He uses contemporary materials such as aluminum while he talks of ancient history and creation stories through his art work.