26" by 26". 7 of 75. THUNDERBIRD SERIES SERIGRAPHS
By SUSAN A. POINT As an artist, I have been very fortunate to draw from a rich legacy of a traditional visual language. My Salish ancestors bestowed their future generations the gift of a powerful culture rooted in teaching of respect for all life through passed down legends from an oral tradition supported by a diverse visual treasure of art. One of the aspects of my traditional Coast Salish art that has especially intrigued me again and again is probably what distinguished Salish imagery apart from other powerful indigenous art of the northwest coast. Unlike other distinct 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 in proportion to each other [life like]). This realistic or natural attempt to the imagery I feel left less restrictions or shall I say created a more open approach without a rigid discipline to adhere to although Salish design elements seldom varied ... those being typically “crescent, wedge and u-forms”. I think this is why there are so many personal interpretations of certain subjects illustrated in the ancient objects that still remain from the past. I have attempted to honour some of the individual expressions with respect to the Thunderbird in a series of images that reflect the ancestral artistic diversity of my people. The images in this series will probably conclude at, at least, 15 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 are also a reflection based on traditional formats explored by Salish artists long ago. Each profoundly depicting the legends and stories about the Thunderbird in their unique individual style. Although very uncommon to each other they mistakenly show the comprehensible and universal visual language that for some is recognizable as a mark of the Salish. I hope the imagery is interpreted as proud symbols of a living tradition. So far I have created eleven different thunderbird images in this series ... each being produced into a print and some, a carved and painted panel. These panels are unique to themselves. Although the images used come from the drawings I used for the prints, the colours, carving and inclusion of copper, silver and abalone, etc. give the panels a completely different look!