Design Narrative by Deana Dartt-Newton, PhD, curator at the Portland Art Museum:
“The Chilkat Robe, an enduring symbol of Northwest Coast Native cultures, has remained an icon of Native American art through time. Today, fine examples of Chilkat robes can be seen right here at the Portland Art Museum.
Chilkat robes, a complex form of tapestry twining, are the best-known textiles of the Northwest Coast. Emblems of nobility, they are prized for crest significance, fine workmanship and spirituality. The labor-intensive process to create a robe includes spinning wool and cedar bark warp, dyeing weft, then weaving the blanket. The abstract designs of crest animals on Chilkat blankets fill the entire design space.
In the Resilience design, Tlingit weaver Clarissa Rizal, student of Master Weaver Jennie Thlunaut of Klukwan, will illustrate in a commissioned traditional Chilkat, a narrative about colonial impacts on Northwest Coast Native cultures.
Within the central design field, Eagle and Raven symbols dominate, as they continue to form the foundation of culture – the clan system. Rizal expresses adaptations for cultural integration and survival by incorporating logos of the Native corporations and organizations “giving flight” to Native rights and sovereignty. The right and left panels contain symbols of Western influences integrated into lives of Native people including museums, institutions, and mining represented by the pair of hands holding the gold pan.
A powerful bridge between the traditional and the modern, the Resilience robe will set the stage for an exhibition in 2017 highlighting continuities and change among the art forms of the Northwest Coast. The picture of balance and symmetry, the Resilience Chilkat is modern expression woven in traditional form and represents the powerful bridge we need to bring our historic collection of Northwest Coast Art into the 21st century.”
Read about Clarissa’s design description of this robe is in a previous blog entry: http://www.clarissarizal.com/blogblog/?p=2914