Excerpt from The Transforming Image, 2nd Ed.
We are celebrating the release of the 2nd edition of The Transforming Image: Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations by Bill McLennan, Karen Duffek. In collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia. Here is an excerpt from the introduction of the book.
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. Like the painted images themselves, this story has been shaped by the hands of generations of painters and by the forces of history. Its visual language is at once organic and highly structured. Its forms speak of space and balance, of tension and release. Its themes belong as much to the ancient past as to the present day, linking oral narrative and the visible world, and crossing the boundaries between human, animal, and spiritual realms. This is a story of the transforming images of a living tradition.
The idea of transformation can be extended to painted images in multiple ways. Many of the paintings are representations of mythical beings whose power derives, in part, from their ability to transform from one manifestation or cosmic realm to another. The stylistic and conceptual evolution of regional traditions of painting on the Northwest Coast, through both cultural interaction and individual creativity, constitutes a second kind of transformation. Central to this book, moreover, are the transforming ways of seeing and interpreting painted images over time, whether within and among First Nations communities or as objects travel outside their original contexts.
Excerpted from The Transforming Image, 2nd Ed.: Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations. Copyright © 2022 by Museum of Anthropology at University of British Columbia. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.