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Save Our Wild Salmon

October 27, 2022
By Jerald Pierce Seattle Times arts and culture reporter

As the rain rolls in and we near the holidays, it’s the perfect time to make your way inside to reacquaint yourself with the many offerings Seattle’s numerous museums and galleries have on view. November also marks Native American Heritage Month, and you can honor and celebrate the art born from the rich heritage and history of Indigenous peoples in a number of ways.

From learning more about the history of tattooing to taking in some of Seattle’s iconic glassworks and celebrating the legacy of Indigenous women in the arts, here are a few options around Seattle for viewing and supporting the work of Native and Indigenous artists.

“Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest”

The Burke Museum is celebrating the history and artistry of Indigenous tattooing through photographs, cultural belongings and contemporary art in “Body Language.” The exhibit is organized by Vancouver, B.C.’s, Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art and is co-curated by Nlaka’pamux tattoo artist and scholar Dion Kaszas, who is known for using traditional hand tattooing methods including skin stitching and hand poke. The exhibition highlights the place of tattooing on the Northwest Coast, showing both its historical place linked to celebrations and personal identity and its current ability to tell personal stories and create a feeling of belonging. “Body Language” shows how these traditions, which have been previously disrupted and banned, endured through the efforts of folks like the Indigenous artists featured here.

Nov. 6, 2022-April 16, 2023; Burke Museum, 4303 Memorial Way N.E., Seattle; 

“Indigenous Matrix: Northwest Women Printmakers”

Up in the Seattle Art Museum’s third-floor galleries is “Indigenous Matrix: Northwest Women Printmakers.” This installation of contemporary works features the bold graphics and colors of Northwest Native silk-screen prints from several Indigenous women who are inspiring a new generation of Native artists. The installation — which features artists Pitseolak Ashoona, Francis Dick, Myra Kukiiyuat, Jesse Oonark, Susan Point and Angotigolu Teevee — was curated by Kari Karsten, a member of the Seneca nation and an emerging museum professional curatorial intern at the museum. On your way up, stop by the recently revamped American art galleries, a centerpiece of which is “Áakiiwilaxpaake (People of the Earth),” a newly commissioned lightbox portrait from Apsáalooke artist Wendy Red Star.

Through Dec. 11; Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., Seattle;

“Fluid in Nature”

We wouldn’t be talking about Seattle art if we didn’t include some glassworks. Stonington Gallery is presenting the works of three Native glass masters in Washington state: Dan Friday (Lummi), Preston Singletary (Tlingit) and Raven Skyriver (Tlingit). All three acclaimed artists have been featured around the world, including at institutions like the Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of the American Indian and the British Museum, and this exhibition centers their role in tying the tradition and imagery of Native cultures with the contemporary glass movement. “Fluid in Nature” invites you to explore the conversation around modernity and tradition while delving into the fluidity and complexity of identity.

Through Nov. 26; 125 S. Jackson St., Seattle;

“this was a densely wooded hill”

As you enter the Henry Art Gallery’s lobby gallery, you will be met by a cascading archive of objects as part of “this was a densely wooded hill.” This installation comes from yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective, an urban Indigenous women-led arts nonprofit (that also has a wonderful selection of online exhibitions available to view). The basis of the installation formed as the organization searched for land after receiving funding to purchase a site in Seattle for transformative land-based arts programming. Over the course of the exhibition, the installation will continue to grow. The installation exists within the broader context of the ongoing displacement of Native and Indigenous peoples and the preservation of that displacement within museums.

Through March 2023; Henry Art Gallery, 15th Ave. N.E. & N.E. 41st St., Seattle;

“Indigenous Art of the Salish Sea”

Head to the Vashon Center for the Arts to check out this group exhibition of artists from or working in the Salish Sea region. The exhibition will include paintings, prints and glasswork, and artist Dan Friday will be giving an artist talk in conjunction with the exhibition on Nov. 6. This exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Stonington Gallery and local Native artists to showcase the unique style of the region’s artists, both traditional and contemporary.

Nov. 4-27; Vashon Center for the Arts, 19600 Vashon Highway S.W., Vashon;

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