Figure 1 Publishing

Art + Design / Indigenous Art + Culture

The Transforming Image, 2nd Ed.

Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations

Bill McLennan, Karen Duffek. In collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

“An incredible archive of paintings by Northwest Coast artists, allowing the viewer to explore the creativity, energy, and depths these artists have achieved.” —Robert Davidson

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“The story of Northwest Coast painting is continuous and unfolding. It begins with the emergence of the painted line on cedar and skin: the first brushstrokes of an expressive tradition thousands of years in the making.”


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Book Description

In the two decades since its initial publication, The Transforming Image has become a must-have book for scholars and appreciators of Northwest Coast art, and, importantly, for First Nations artists, who have found inspiration in its wealth of images and ideas. A new edition of this groundbreaking volume makes its invaluable findings accessible once again.

Its hundreds of photos of historical Indigenous artworks—objects and belongings now widely dispersed in collections around the world—are the extraordinary result of the Museum of Anthropology’s Image Recovery Project, which used infrared photography to reveal paintings on historical Northwest Coast objects whose surfaces are obscured by the patina of age. The project assembled images of nearly a thousand different paintings over its two-decade run, and worked with contemporary First Nations artists to reconstruct the compositions and understand their original context and significance, which the authors discuss in their insightful and engaging commentary.  These rediscovered artworks radically deepened the understanding of Northwest Coast First Nations painting, including techniques, materials, imagery, and the creativity of generations of ancestor artists.

A new preface by Karen Duffek speaks to what the book has helped set in motion, and how First Nations artists and scholars today are taking this art forward in new and compelling directions.



New books celebrate West Coast Indigenous art

Windspeaker, Penticton Herald

Beautiful books are important historical records of Northwest Coastal art

“Not only seeing the pieces is important but having this many images side-by-side means an easier way to not only access the art but to compare it.”

Calgary Herald

“In the 22 years since it was first published The Transforming Image has become both a reference guide for scholars and a textbook for artists looking for historical context and pure inspiration from its hundreds and hundreds of images.”

Vancouver Sun

“This new edition [. . .] is an essential compendium of, and guide to, northern Northwest Coast two-dimensional design.”

British Columbia Review


  • Hardcover
  • 10.75 × 9 inches
  • 312 pages
  • 978-1-77327-198-9
  • $65 CDN / $55 USD
  • October 2022