Museum of Anthropology

SQ3Tsya'yay: Weaver's Spirit Power

September 28 – December 15, 2006

Examples of rare Coast Salish textile weaving, part of the traveling exhibit SQ3Tsya'yay: Weaver's Spirit Power, were on display at the Museum of Anthropology in fall 2006. The pieces were woven by Susan Pavel, who led a public demonstration and presentation about Salish weaving as part of WSU's Art a la Carte series.

"Not only are the works visually stunning," said Barbara Brotherton, curator of Native American art at the Seattle Art Museum, "but collectively they tell a story about a dedicated individual who has embarked on a life's mission to bring back something cherished. She honors the ancestors and her community by following this path. It is a tribute to the resilience of Native people and Native art."

"Inherent to Salish weaving are the teachings," said Michael Pavel, associate professor of education at WSU and Susan Pavel's husband. "The most important of these teachings is unity, which teaches our society that individual fibers are weak until twisted together. Like individuals of a family, community, tribe or nation, we are weak until we learn to work together in unity, to realize that our beauty and strength is inherently brought to life together and not when we are alone."

"Weaving is not merely what I do, weaving is a way of looking at the world," said Susan Pavel, an apprentice of master Salish weaver and Skokomish tribal member Bruce (subiyay) Miller. Pavel, who is Hawaiian and Filipino, studies and embraces her husband's Twana culture and tradition and has been given the ancestral name sa'hLa mitSa by Michael's family.

Coast Salish textile weaving is a relatively unknown art form, but according to Pavel there was a time when fiber weaving was as highly esteemed as carving.

"Our hope and intention is to continue to build interest in the art form by educating our people and the public at large about Coast Salish weaving," Pavel said.

Traditionally, Salish blankets and clothing are woven using a variety of animal and plant fibers, including mountain goat wool, canine hair, hemp, fireweed, cattail, and yellow and red cedar bark. Various plants, such as bark from Oregon grape, stinging nettles, various lichens and alder bark, are used to create colors used in dying the wool.

"Susan is extremely proficient in the practice of weaving," said Brotherton. "While she invokes a traditional ethos in her work, she freely allows herself to try new things. I'm continually surprised by the beauty and sublimity of her work. Just when I think she has created the most wonderful piece, she will do another that surpasses that.

"Her work also allows those of us outside the culture a glimpse into what is elemental in Native philosophy: respect the earth, honor your talent as an artist, learn from the ancestors, carry yourself with dignity and give back to others," Brotherton said.

For more information about Susan Pavel's work: http://www.coastsalishweaving.com/

Photo: example of Coast Salish weaving

 

 

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