Sisi’utl Crossbeam, 2008
edition of 75
25.25 x 76 cm
Artist Marianne Nicolson is a member of the Dzawada’enuxw First Nations Tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation. This is the first screenprint by the artist, which Nicolson prepared in conjunction with her site specific installation The House of the Ghosts, which was on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery from October 4, 2008 to January 11, 2009. For this work, she used high-powered theatrical lighting, transforming the Gallery’s Georgia Street architectural façade into a re-imagining of a traditional Kwakwaka‘wakw ceremonial house.
In this Artist Edition titled Sisi’utl Crossbeam, Nicolson extracted an element of the imagery used in The House of the Ghosts and created a two colour screenprint, a medium traditionally associated with First Nations artists. The elongated figure is called a Sisi’utl which is a crest depicted as a two headed sea serpent with an anthropomorphic head (and hands) forming the central portion of the body. Nicolson then embossed a text, an unusual intervention in the screenprinting process, in both Kwakwaka‘wakw and its English translation reading “Come, Ghosts! You, whose night is day and whose day is night, in this Great House.” Nicolson has stated that in traditional Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonies “it is believed that spirits can be enticed into communion with humans, allowing them to conduct extraordinary feats… Ultimately the work seeks assistance in the healing of the compromised landscape within which all Kwakwaka‘wakw , First Nations and Canadians live.”
Marianne Nicolson has had solo exhibitions at Or Gallery, Vancouver (1992); Campbell River Public Art Gallery (2000); National Indian Art Centre, Hull (2001); Thunder Bay Art Gallery (2002); Esquimalt Municipal Hall (2004); Artspeak, Vancouver (2006); and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (2008).