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Undergrad students working on the button blanket [Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, Victoria BC, Jan 16-Apr 24] Photo: Michael Glendale

Undergrad students working on the button blanket [Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, Victoria BC, Jan 16-Apr 24] Photo: Michael Glendale

Adasla: The Movement of Hands

Legacy Art Gallery downtown
Victoria BC – Jan 16-Apr 25, 2014

The biggest button blanket in the world

The biggest button blanket in the world [Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, Victoria BC, Jan 16-Apr 24] Photo: Michael Glendale


Brin O'Hare working n the button blanket

Brin O'Hare working n the button blanket [Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, Victoria BC, Jan 16-Apr 24]


Button blankets are a traditional art form of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. These blankets were originally worn during potlatch ceremonies and dances. They remain powerful symbols of historical family narratives and of enduring connections to the land.

Peter Morin, a Tahltan Nation artist, curator and writer who is currently teaching in the Visual Arts and First Nations Art Department at the University of Brandon, refers to the button blanket as “culture wrapped around us.”

Morin and Dr. Carolyn Butler Palmer of the History of Art Department at the University of Victoria, along with a class-full of students, have created what they are calling the biggest button blanket in the world. Measuring 6 x 6 metres square, it incorporates between 4,000 and 6,000 buttons. The central design, contributed by artist Barry Sam, is a moon surrounded by spawning salmon and two crows.

Making the blanket was a truly inclusive project, begun last fall. The undertaking brought together a diverse group of students with ancestors from all parts of the globe. In addition, many local elders and button blanket makers joined the group to teach their skills and share stories.

Morin sees the project as an opportunity to bring button blankets into mainstream culture the way totem poles are. To him the project has also been an attempt to make space for the button blanket in Western art history and to give button blanket artists the recognition they deserve.

uvac.uvic.ca/

Christine Clark


 Thu, Feb 6, 2014