Indigenous Strength and Wellness @ Bainbridge Island Museum of Art
"Wat ́sa with a Pearl Earring" 🦪
Published March 27, 2023
March 10th – June 4th
Thawing temperatures and later sunsets make right now an ideal time to take a ferry to Bainbridge Island to check out this massive group show of Indigenous art.
At Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA), Indigenous Strength & Wellness features the works of over fifteen Native American and First Nations artists primarily living and working in the Salish Sea region. The exhibition pulls together pieces addressing “issues of health, mental health, personal and community strength, and well-being.” It also serves as a memorial for Steven Charles (Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian tribes), an influential advocate of contemporary Indigenous artists in the Puget Sound region. He served as director and curator of the Sacred Circle Gallery of American Indian Art and passed away in 2018.
Walking through the exhibition, you’ll find several different modes of art. Alison Bremner (Tlingit) satirically flips the script on the ideals of Western canonical art, inserting traditional Tlingit masks on top of iconic paintings like the “Mona Lisa” or “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” In another corner, you’ll find one of mixed media artist and curator Gail Tremblay’s (Mi’kmaq and Onondaga Tribes) incredible film baskets. She makes these baskets with recycled film using traditional basket weaving techniques to reassert control over an art form that has historically stereotyped Native people. On your way out, peep at Kate Ahvakana’s (Suquamish Tribe) multi-story digital artwork in BIMA’s Beacon Window Gallery, which will reside in the window for the length of the exhibition.
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📸: Alison Marks Bremner's ̀"Wat ́sa with a Pearl Earring" (2014)
Jas Keimig is an arts and culture writer in Seattle. Their work has previously appeared in The Stranger, i-D, Netflix, and Feast Portland. They won a game show once and have a thing for stickers.