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Vancouver Island artist featured at American Museum of Natural History

Snuneymuxw’s Eliot White-Hill part of Grounded by Our Roots exhibit at New York City museum
Eliot White-Hill’s We Fell From the Sky/Together Apart painting, left, Ancestors’ Hands sculpture and Through the Spindle/Other Whorlds print on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City until 2025 as part of the Grounded by Our Roots group exhibit. (Submitted images)

A Coast Salish visual artist will have three signature pieces on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City until next year.

A release for the exhibit, called Grounded by Our Roots, noted that Snuneymuxw and Hupacasath artist Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun, was chosen as one of five up-and-coming Indigenous artists who draw inspiration from their cultural traditions. The exhibit, located in the Northwest Coast Hall of the museum, features 13 pieces of paintings, prints, clothing and sculptures that “showcase contemporary Indigenous art inspired by rich visual arts traditions of the Northwest Coast.”

Of those 13 pieces, three were previously presented by White-Hill within the last three years.

The artist’s painting titled We Fell From the Sky/Together and Apart is mixed media on birch panel that depicts a main Snuneymuxw creation story, and was originally designed for the Huli u’tu staluẃ/Riverbed group art exhibit at the Nanaimo Art Gallery in 2021.

A screen print of White-Hill’s was also added to the collection, titled Through the Spindle/Other Whorlds, that plays with the idea of spindle whorls through abstract and contemporary Coast Salish design.

And the final piece of White-Hill’s added was the sculpture titled Ancestor’s Hands, made of pizza box cardboard and based on an archaeological dig that took place roughly 40 years ago – and is also closely connected to the Nanaimo Museum called ‘What is Sacred?’ exhibit curated by the artist last year.

Although White-Hill is honoured to be a part of the display, he said it left him with mixed feelings.

“It’s a huge honour to have my art shared on this stage and chosen amongst all the up-and-coming artist of the Northwest Coast who could’ve been chosen … It’s also complex, having my art in the Northwest Coast Hall too. Because while I made my art and meant it to be shared publicly and to help celebrate our culture and teachings and help educate people, but a lot of the objects (at the museum) were made for ceremony, and they were made for use in their community and by the people who made them. And they didn’t arrive in New York in a good way,” he said.

Also participating in the exhibit were artists Hawilkwalał Rebecca Baker-Grenier, Alison Bremner Naxhshagheit, SGidGang.Xaal Shoshannah Greene and Nash’mene’ta’naht Atheana Picha.

Grounded by Our Roots will show at the American Museum of Natural History until June 2025.

READ MORE: Nanaimo Museum considers the sacred in Coast Salish art revitalization exhibit

Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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