Old Squamish spindle whorl, Burke Museum collection
Coast Salish art
A distinct and bold style of art
There is a lot of creative work that comes from the people’s called the Coast Salish. It is as varied as the numerous tribes on the West Coast of North America, on both sides of the Canadian-American border, who share dialects of the same language, and similarities in tradition and artistic expression.
Here are some things I’ve noticed about the work
• it tends to be bold, with powerful use of both positive and negative spaces to create designs
• it uses what I’ll call a silhouette, or outline shape, rather than what in more northerly design styles is called formline
• features or aspects of the design rely on ‘elements’, which things generally called circles, wedges, u-forms, and crescents; and these tend to be ‘punched out’ of the silhouette like a cookie cutter
• it can be simple, or extremely detailed and complex in execution, and has several ‘schools’, or general approaches to composition
• the community, and economic works fell into disuse for a long time until people like Floyd Joseph, Susan Point, and Stan Greene brought it out more into the public eye, although it seemed to continue in several less public spiritual aspects
•it was also executed in lots of different materials that were picked for function, and continues to flourish in a variety of media and formats
There is a lot which can be said about this style of work, and I will be adding a kind of Coast Salish Art primer to my site along with some visuals to add to my explanation, along with some sample projects for you to try.