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March 19, 2007

A Major Exhibit of Contemporary Northwest Coast Native Art – Now Open

From the Burke Museum’s Permanent Collection

Seattle– The Burke Museum presents the first comprehensive exhibition of contemporary Northwest Coast Native art from the Burke’s own collections, In the Spirit of the Ancestors, from Mar. 3, 2007 – Sept. 3, 2007.Selected by two Burke Museum curators and two guest curators from more than 2,400 20th& 21st century pieces in the museum’s ethnology collection, this is the first exhibition of the Burke’s contemporary Northwest Coast collection that features a broad mix of media, including sculpture, weaving, paintings, and prints, together in one major show.

Drawing from significant collections donated by Arthur B. Steinman, Simon Ottenberg, Margaret Blackman and Ed Hall among others, the exhibit features over 70 works made since 1985.The work of over 60 artists are exhibited, including Art Thompson, Hyacinth Joe David, Susan Point, Marvin Oliver, Manuel Salazar, Robert and Reg Davidson, Dorothy Grant, Isabel Rorick, Calvin Hunt, Beau Dick, Klatle-Bhi, Ken Mowatt and Clarissa Hudson. Several major new pieces have been donated and acquired specifically for this exhibition, such as a six-panel wall sculpture donated by Susan Point.

In the Spirit of the Ancestors was curated by four key figures in Northwest Coast art scholarship and practice: Robin K. Wright, Bill Holm, Shaun Peterson (Qwalsius), and Susan Point.Wright is the Curator of Native American Art at the Burke Museum, and Director of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art. Bill Holm, Burke Curator Emeritus, is recognized as a world expert in the field of Northwest Coast art.

Long established as a leader among contemporary Coast Salish artists, Musqueam artist Susan Point, from Vancouver, B.C., is known for her large scale, three dimensional works in a variety of media that reinterpret traditional Coast Salish art forms. Point has created numerous public art installations in Canada and the United States. Shaun Peterson (Qwalsius), a Puyallup/Tulalip carver and printmaker, is a rising star among contemporary Coast Salish artists. His public installations in the cities of Seattle and Tacoma, as well as installations for tribal communities have helped to make contemporary Native art relevant to the lives of Pacific Northwesterners.

This major new exhibit was conceived as a sequel to Bill Holm’s book, “Spirit and Ancestor: A Century of Northwest Coast Art at the Burke,” in which he selected and commented on 100 pieces in the Burke’s collection. Following a similar format, In the Spirit of the Ancestors will present contemporary pieces, which have been made since Holm wrote his book in 1985.The new exhibit serves to increase understanding and appreciation of the vitality, artistry, and cultural significance of contemporary Northwest Coast art.This exhibit will demonstrate the strength of the Burke Museum’s role in contemporary Northwest Coast art.

The Burke Museum has a long history of commitment to the preservation, study, teaching, and display of Northwest Coast art and material cultures with its expansive archaeology and ethnology research collections. Dr. Wright, curator of Native American art at the Burke, comments that, “The curators of In the Spirit of the Ancestors recognize that works of great artistry and innovation are being created today by contemporary Native artists. In the Spirit of the Ancestors brings this living art to the public, engendering a greater awareness of the people, the artistry, and cultures, past and present, that it represents.”

In complement to this exhibit, the Burke also hosts Our People, Our Land, Our Images, an exhibit of contemporary Native American photography, from Mar. 3, 2007 – May 28, 2007. This traveling photography exhibit was organized by CN Gorman Museum, UC Davis.In the Spirit of the Ancestors and Our People, Our Land, Our Images work together to create a complex portrait of contemporary Native art in the Northwest Coast today.

In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Contemporary Northwest Coast Native Art was developed by the Burke Museum and has been generously sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Quest for Truth Foundation, and the Tulalip Tribes. Additional support has been provided by: 4Culture; Behnke Foundation; Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art; Jeffris Wood Foundation; Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, City of Seattle; OneFamily Foundation; John and Joyce Price; The Suquamish Tribe; Wells Fargo; and donors to the Burke Museum's Annual Fund.

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