James Madison uses materials that his elders in the Coast Salish and Tlingit tribes never dreamed of using. "I call it keeping my culture...
James Madison uses materials that his elders in the Coast Salish and Tlingit tribes never dreamed of using.
“I call it keeping my culture alive,” he said. “For myself, and for all of us, my generation is starting to do this.”
Madison curates a show titled “Generations: The Art and Culture of the Tulalip Tribes,” which runs Thursday through June 26 at the Arts Council of Snohomish County gallery at the Monte Cristo Hotel in Everett.
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Woodcarving, baskets, clothing and jewelry share space with prints, works from metal and blown and cast glass. It’s also the council’s annual Art Education in Action show. More than 3,400 schoolchildren will see the show on field trips and do an art project as part of the exhibit.
Artists will be at the opening reception from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, which will include a musical performance by the Tulalip Canoe Family.
“Generations” is rich with family groupings: the Gobin family, the Madison family, members of the Sheldon and Williams families.
Madison and his cousins grew up around their grandparents’ table, learning carving from his grandfather.
His grandfather’s stories of “who we were and where we came from” sparked an interest in art. From the first, Madison was aware of how carvers used their knives, how they manipulated the blade and worked with the grain of the wood.
Frank Madison, James’ uncle, went into the schools and taught Native American art. James’ father, Richard, is an abstract painter, and modern artists such as Picasso and Dali were influences on his son, who went to the University of Washington.
“It gave me another direction to bring out the culture,” he said. “Now I try to sculpt things rather than just carve.”
“We were raised to learn to grow with different mediums in our art,” Madison continued. “Now that we use more modern tools, we use more modern materials. I try to incorporate glass and bronze casting into my work and to show we’re still alive, we’re not petrified.”
Madison also is an art consultant to the Tulalip Tribes and has designed artwork throughout their new resort hotel that opens in June.
From carpet designs to mugs, his images are everywhere, but nowhere more prominently than behind the check-in desk, where he has designed a long, stained-glass panel depicting a canoeist’s view of the sea, the orcas and the mountains.
Madison also created a 24-foot-tall “story pole,” which took nearly a decade since he and his collaborators found the cedar tree in Darrington. After the tree was felled, it was split three ways and carved into three poles for the Tulalip Resort Casino’s lobby.
Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or firstname.lastname@example.org