Susan Point Whorls the Imagination in Current Vancouver Art Gallery Exhibit

Susan Point - Salish Vision and Ravens and Moon

Left: Salish Vision, 2002. Courtesy of the Museum of Anthropology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver. | Right: Ravens and Moon, 2001. Collection of George and Christiane Smyth. Both photos: Janet Dwyer

An exhibit of work that elevates the importance of women and Indigenous women that merges spirituality with practicality and pairs tradition with playfulness is on at the Vancouver Art Gallery right now, and until May 28th, 2017.

Susan Point - Mystical Whorl, 1987

Mystical Whorl, 1987. Screenprint on paper. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Kenji Nagai

Susan Point’s Spindle Whorl is a retrospective of work that was all inspired by a piece of the traditional wool spinning tool of Musqueam women. Whorls, including ones that have been found dating back between 1200-1808 (some of which are also in the show) is a circular part that is usually decorated or carved on the side that faces the person. As it spins the wool, the carved image spins, and can contribute to a contemplative or meditative state. Point’s work brings the importance of the art of spinning as well as the connection of home, family, community, and spirituality into a space where she can share it with the world.

The spindle whorl is visible in this image at the base of the wool. | Photo: Charles F. Newcombe, December 5, 1915.  Royal BC Museum/BC Archives

Point is a Musqueam artist with not only an incredible body of work, but her range of materials shows off her ability to express her cultural traditions and background in a way that rivals anyone who thinks of culture as something that is in the past. Using materials like glass and synthetics, as well as pastel colours of pinks and teals, tradition is carried forward, and continued in new ways.

Susan Point - The Circle Within, 2007

An example of playing with materials and colour. | The Circle Within, 2007. Painted bronze polymer, cedar, acrylic. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Photo: Janet Dwyer

The spirit of curiosity, playing with forms, and truly enjoying and appreciating her background, culture, and family comes through in every piece, many of which were made with the assistance of her children, who can now continue the forms into new generations.

See the show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, until May 28th, 2017. I highly recommend going on time for a tour, where you can learn more about the depth of Susan Point’s work. There is also a curator talk on Tuesday March 21st at 7:00pm. Both are free for members or with admission.

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  1. Pingback: Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, March 20, 2017 | Vancouver Art Gallery Library & Archives

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