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Past Exhibitions

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The End of the Ancestors: The Narrative Art of Bruce subiyay Miller

Dec 2 2009 – Aug 1 2010

Seattle Art Museum

Bruce subiyay Miller’s artworks—carving, basketry and weaving—are rooted in ancient traditions but were created for living people. As a young man, he served in Vietnam and worked as an actor in New York City, then returned to the Skokomish reservation and re-awakened interest in the arts of basketry and wool weaving, Winter dancing and First Food ceremonies.

A master storyteller, ritualist and artist, he believed that humans long to be part of a never-ending story so that their special contributions—as artists, orators, fishermen and healers—can be conveyed to subsequent generations. Colonization and the "capsizing of culture" disrupted the continuity of the story and endangered ancestral teachings.

Subiyay carried the wisdom of the ancestors into all he did and to those he taught, through storytelling, visual art and his vast knowledge of the natural world. He encouraged people to insert their unique talents into a modern narrative—a story that draws the past close but is alive with new possibilities.

–Barbara Brotherton, Curator of Native American Art

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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