Tribal Adornments

According to the thesaurus, adornment refers to decoration, an enhancement, a bauble, an embellishment, a border or trimming. The nineteen artists in Tribal Adornments, drawn from
 our Northwest Coast and from Papua New Guinea, have created a range of artworks that surely encompass all of these definitions.

 To decorate the person, a powerful Shaman's neckring. composed of replicated gambling sticks and small exquisite carvings of spirit birds and animals by Shawn Karpes. Refined contemporary renditions of the sun and the moon, richly embellished with abalone and brass, by Kevin Cranmer. By masterful carving and skilled engineering, Silas Coon has once again created a fully functioning miniature four-way transformation mask. His fourth such creation of original design is the result of months of work and meticulous attention to detail. A unique contribution in the form of a delicate bracelet fashioned from mountain goat horn and trimmed with silver and abalone by Luke Marston. Miniature spruce root hats made by Primrose Adams and decorated by her son Alfred Adams have become a tradition for our Christmas show.

 To house them all, John Marston has created a magnificent treasure chest in yellow cedar, faithfully bent and carved in deep relief. Enclosed within can be found a tiny, finely woven wool blanket by John's sister Karen Marston to cushion and protect the contents it will store.

 In this exhibition, we further feature the works of a growing number of young Coast Salish painters, including Maynard Johnny Jr., lessLIE and Chris Paul. Working exclusively within their Salish tradition, they have created striking works. Directly alluding to notions of adornment within the culture, lessLIE's Salish Bracelet thoughtfully explores connections between design, adornment and cultural belief.

 Central to the display from Papua New Guinea, from the hand of Alois Sukundimi, we have a brilliantly executed carving of the nuptial celebration of a young couple who traditionally
 inhabit the sago swamp near Torembi Village on the Sepik River. While conceptually traditional, this magnificent work explores tension and vitality within the human figure, resulting in a physical presence that is far from mythical. Particularly notable is the finely detailed bridal headdress. Its shell embellishment is a reminder of the prevalence of the material as an adornment - in both sculpture and for the body - in this region, as seen in the Kina shell brideprice necklace by an unidentified artist from Palembei Village.

 Most Sepik carving is monumental in scale and we are fortunate to have for this exhibition a small group of very fine miniature carvings collected during our visit to these artists in April of this year. Of particular note, there is a group of tiny ancestors from Tony Mark, a slingshot from Aron Kapaia and a small yet powerful carving of a battle between man and pig by Edward Dumoi.

 Seeing these works alongside carvings by renowned Northwest Coast artists such as Christian White and Tony Hunt Jr. provides illuminating opportunities to appreciate the visual affinities that occur in the decorative elements of the art along the Pacific Rim.

 We hope you enjoy viewing the exhibition and considering the many ways in which the idea of adornment manifests itself within and among the artworks presented.

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