Coast Salish artist’s exhibit opens at new IMA location May 29

The San Juan Islands Museum of Art will open its doors at 28 First St., on May 29 with Shaun Peterson’s new work entitled, “Continuum: Vision and Creativity on the Northwest Coast.”

A reception with the artist is scheduled at 5 p.m.

Peterson is a Coast Salish artist of Puyallup and Tulalip ancestry. In mid-May, he will be installing a major sculpture, the “Welcome Figure Project,” in Downtown Tacoma across from the Tacoma Art Museum and the Glass Museum, and has been busy creating public installations for cities throughout the Pacific Northwest since he last came to San Juan Island.

In April, he completed the work for an international traveling exhibition of work, which was sent to Vancouver, Portland, Phoenix and New York. Peterson also lectures throughout the United States and Canada on the creative process and cultural relevance, as he did at the San Juan Community Theatre when he kicked off the IMA “Art as a Voice” Lecture Series.

IMA chose Peterson to open the museum for its 2009 summer and fall seasons with his new work, in large part because of the deep connection the IMA board has with Peterson and his work.

Peterson’s strong relationship with Coast Salish art was recognized by the board several years ago when members first launched the “Art as a Voice” Program. The lectures, held free to the public in the San Juan Community Theatre, were introduced to the San Juan Islands communities by Peterson, who is knowledgeable about the diverse Northwest Coast Native styles and applications, yet is contemporary in spirit, style and technique.

Peterson’s focus and expertise is on the art of the Southern regions that encompass the many indigenous nations of Western Washington and Southern British Columbia known as Coast Salish territory. San Juan Island is a part of this territory.

An active member of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art, Peterson participates in many group exhibitions throughout the region, as time permits between installations, private commissions and permanent work similar to the “Welcome Figure Project” in Tacoma.

Peterson founded Qwalsius Studios in 1999, originally under the name Salish Print, when he was primarily a printmaker. Since that time, he has branched out into many different artistic expressions, including wood, metal and glass sculpture, digital media, and writing.

All of Peterson’s work comes from one passion: to create and educate the public about Coast Salish art and in the process instill pride in Native communities, that their past and present art is a rich and beautiful gift that should be recognized and celebrated by all.


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