Point, Susan

Susan Point O.C., DFA., RCA., D.Litt. (1952 –) is a descendant of the Musqueam people; she is the great, great, granddaughter of chief Capilano. Musqueam people have lived in the areas stirred by the mouth of the Fraser River for more than five thousand years. The name Musqueam relates back to the River Grass.

Susan began making limited edition prints on her kitchen table in 1981 while working as a legal secretary. She received several early commissions, which established her reputation for innovative proposals and for completing projects on time, on budget and at the highest level. She took courses in silver, casting and carving, all of which led to monumental sculptures in mixed media, and she was the first Northwest Coast artist to work in glass. She continues to release a number of print editions each year, but her focus has been on commissioned sculpture.

Beaver and the Mink was chosen as the gift from the Canadian government to the new addition to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. She has several works in Vancouver International Airport, Langara College, the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology and the Victoria Conference Centre, and her designs have been the logo for the annual Pacific Spirit Run, a fundraiser for hospital charities in Vancouver. She has also sat on the board of the Emily Carr Institute of Art Design in Vancouver.

Susan inherited the values of her culture and traditions of her people as were taught to her mother, (Edna Grant-Point).

‘I seem to end up pushing myself one step beyond my goals, or one step in a new direction so often. This applies to my whole life; therefore my artwork is evolving all of the time. New situations, new experiences have always played fundamental roles in my art, this can be seen in my sometimes-playful use of colour and understanding of my ancestral visual language.

‘Thirty years ago I was trying my hands at re-creating ancestral artefacts; I am now pushing my artistic boundaries in every sense. Although, the most valued part of my artwork remains the same, my mark, and I leave this with every brushstroke, every- whittle of wood, every mark that I leave I study to be sure it is just the way I want it. That is my signature. From the time when I pulled silkscreens on my kitchen table, I have stayed the course thanks to my helpful family, with whom I teach and learn from on a daily basis.

‘All of my children are artists, and my grandchildren show so much promise. I am grateful for my opportunities to lead them through example, and I hope they are inheriting more than just the foundations of art and storytelling, but also the no-fear approach to conception that I am known for.’

Susan’s distinct style has induced a movement in Coast Salish art. She draws inspiration from the stories of her ancestors and commences the use of non-traditional materials and techniques, thus inspiring a whole new generation of Northwest Coast artists.

Susan is an officer of the Order of Canada and has been presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. She has been acknowledged by: an Inspire Achievement Award, a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, a B.C. Creative Achievement Award, appointed lifetime member to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, was elected to the International Women’s Forum, was listed one of B.C’s 100 most influential women, and was one of Vancouver’s 2012 Remarkable Women. Susan has Honorary Doctorates from: the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, University of B.C. and Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

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