Comox lecture series an introduction to Northwest Coast First Nations art

The Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery is presenting a lecture series on First Nations art in the coming weeks.

An Introduction to Northwest Coast First Nations Art by Carol Sheehan, author and authority on Northwest Coast culture and art, is a seven-session lecture series. The first six lectures run on consecutive Wednesdays, beginning April 3.

The lectures will take place at the Comox United Church (Gathering Hall) from 7-8:30 p.m.

Gallery owner Walter Stolting is excited about the opportunity to present the series.

“Our vision at Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery is not only to present beautiful Northwest Coast Indigenous artwork, but to give our guests the option to experience, learn about and interact with artists, scholars and other members of the Northwest Coast cultural community,” he said.

“Our mandate is to support the process of reconciliation through sharing cultural perspectives. We believe that learning to appreciate the art and artists of the Northwest Coast is one more way to facilitate respect and understanding that is foundational to bringing people and ideas together.”

In the last few years, people in the Comox Valley have been privileged to witness an unprecedented increase in newly carved guardian poles and totem poles erected by the K’ómoks First Nation; i.e., the welcome poles outside the Comox Valley Art Gallery.

Understanding the cultural background and symbolism of these important monuments is a small step to increase the respectful appreciation for the K’ómoks First Nation, as well as neighboring Northwest Coast First Nations.

The series of seven illustrated talks by Sheehan is an introduction to the design principles and images that will help develop a visual literacy and sensitivity to coastal First Nations art.

Exploring form, function and meaning through the art of historic and contemporary masters of painting and carving — augmented by hands-on experience with the gallery’s fine collection — the individual sessions are as follows:

1. April 3: Spirit-Mind. Eye-Hand: Formlines and ovoids; trigons and crescents.

· A primer in Northwest Coast design principles from the north to the south coast.

2. April 10: Visual Literacy: What do I see?

· Understanding visual conventions to decipher the images. Visual codes in the art.

3. April 17: Spirits of the Forest: Transforming spirits.

· From Beaver and Frog to Bear and Wolf.

4. April 24: Spirits of the Sky: Winged and glowing spirits.

· From Raven to Hummingbird; Eagle to Thunderbird. Sun and Moon.

5. May 1: Spirits of the Sea. Spirits with fins and flukes.

· Whale and Orca; Shark and Salmon. Seal and Otter.

6. May 8: Spirits of Power; Spirits of Wealth: Betwixt and Between.

· Transcendent creatures of the deep seas and deep forests.

7. May 9 or 10: Female Spirits: Supernatural Women in Art and Ancestry.

· Bear Mother, Tsonoqua, Otter Woman, Volcano Woman, Foam Woman and more.

Special in-gallery presentation to celebrate women as we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Tickets are $85 plus GST. The price includes all seven illustrated talks.

For more information about the lecture series, go to

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