Northwest Coast Women's Art

"Through the Eyes of the Northwest Coast Woman" at the Stonington Gallery showcases a variety of weaving, painting, carving, and jewelry by 29 artists from Alaska, Canada, and Puget Sound. All are influenced by the traditions of Native American art. They use richly organic materials—wool, cattails, wood, glass, and metal—reminding us that nature has long provided all the materials, colors, and textures artists need to make amazing artifacts. And all the artists are women. "Women (artists) are a bit overshadowed by men, with their great carvings and huge canoes and totem poles," says Stonington Gallery director Rebecca Blanchard, explaining the show's focus. "Women's work is quieter and done indoors." Quieter doesn't mean the work is any less intense in skill or imagination. Ann Morris' compellingly eerie bronze sculptures find life within decay. Her "Ghost Boat" is a fish skeleton flipping upward into a vessel shape. The desiccated frog in "Frog Pond" may have died a while ago, yet the blue-bronze bowl it sprawls in is alive with color. Joan Tenenbaum's artful jewelry melds textured metals with gemstones, her natural and spiritual themes inspired by her years living with Native Alaskans. These artists combine a fresh contemporary perspective with a respect for history. Mary Lou Slaughter, the great-granddaughter of Chief Seattle, weaves baskets from strips of red cedar bark and cattail, embracing an old tradition of Coastal Salish tribes, while Sabina Hill's geometric wood and stainless steel "Whales (Orcas) Pod tables" may be ancient in iconography, but are perfectly modern in design. Stonington Gallery, 119 S. Jackson St., 206-405-4040, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sat.; noon-5 p.m. Sun. Ends Nov. 28.

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