November 1, 2019

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas: Carpe Fin at the Seattle Art Museum

On view Nov 1 2019 – Nov 1 2020

Seattle Art Museum – Third Floor Galleries

Carpe Fin is a major commission for SAM’s collection by Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. This monumental work has been created as a “Haida manga,” a unique approach developed by Yahgulanaas that blends several artistic and cultural traditions, including Haida formline art, Japanese manga, Pop Art, and graphic novels.

The artist populates this 6 x 19–foot watercolor mural with figures, landscapes, and action scenes inspired by a traditional Haida oral story: a sea mammal hunter goes in pursuit of food to feed his starving community and is taken underwater to the realm of a powerful spirit. The story is also linked to a 19th-century headdress in SAM’s collection carved by Yahgulanaas’s relative, Albert Edward Edenshaw. Carpe Fin calls attention to issues of environmental degradation and the rupture of the values that honor human-nature interdependence.

This new installation also includes the artist’s drawings and sketches for Carpe Fin, a naaxin (Chilkat Robe) and pattern board, and the Sakí headdress.

Image Credit:
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
Carpe Fin (detail), 2018
Watercolor and ink on handmade Japanese paper
6.5 x 19.7 ft.
Seattle Art Museum