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Musqueam artist makes history with VAG exhibit

Female carver Susan Point celebrates 30-year art career

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By Sydney Morton

Musqueam artist Susan Point is presenting her first ever solo show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, spanning a 30 year career that pushes the boundaries of traditional First Nations art.

Spindle Whorl features Point’s sculptural works, prints, glass and her sketchbooks. Vancouverites are already familiar with Point’s work. In 2004, she designed the storm drain covers now seen all over the city. Her welcome poles are ppermanently installed at the Vancouver International Airport and at Langara College.

In a press release from the VAG, Debra Zhou said Spindle Whorl is the most extensive exhibition to date featuring the work by this pre-eminent Musqueam Artist,” said Debra Zhou of the VAG

At Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery, Xal: Making Her Mark, is running in conjunction with the show at the VAG. The exhibition marks a celebration not only of Point’s career, but the long standing relationship between Point and Svetlana Fouks, one of the founders and owners of Coastal Peoples.

“She is [in] the upper echelon of the Coast Salish artists otherwise she wouldn’t be featured in this way,” said Fouks.

Point’s artwork has earned her the title of contemporary artist as she pushes boundaries but maintains the traditional Coast Salish style.

“Her designs are traditional and use a lot of realism, and that’s the style of Coast Salish art,” Fouks said. “This is Coast Salish territory that needs to be represented by Coast Salish Art.”

Point’s show at the VAG moved Georgia Kelly, a retired nurse. “The work is absolute genius, everything you see, it just elevates the indigenous experience above and beyond,” she said.

“I am actually kind of surprised that the gallery [VAG] didn’t do Susan Point earlier since she has been around for a long time,” said Anna Nobile, a writer.

Fouks believes Point’s success is rooted in how connected she is to her culture and the tradition of passing down knowledge from one generation to another.

“Her art is extremely integral in her life and that is what everybody connects to,” Fouks said.

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