Musqueam artist Susan Point has received wide acclaim for her remarkably diverse oeuvre. Working with glass, resin, concrete, wood, paper and more to create art that ranges from the intimacy of the jewelry she produced in the early 1980s to monumental public sculptures, including three at Vancouver International Airport, the welcome figure at Museum of Anthropology, and three cedar house posts in Stanley Park.
“I continue trying to push myself one step beyond my goals, or one step in a new direction so often," says Vancouver-based Point. "There is always another stride to make. My art is never really finished; there is just a point where I have to stop myself."
Point of Vue, an exhibition of new and favourite works runs until June 2 at the Deer Lake Gallery in Burnaby.
Update: Vancouver Art Gallery announced that it would present the Audain Award to Susan Point on May 24.
Most surprising work of art that you created The most fun and surprising are the Christ Church Cathedral Windows, Tree of Life. It was a very exciting project.
What keeps you so prolific? The ever-changing environment provides me with a lot of inspiration and cause to express myself. As an artist, I don't use words, but rather feeling in my works.
What inspires you to reach beyond tradition in your art? The challenge of new mediums has always been an exciting pursuit.
Proudest achievement? Becoming an Officer of the Order of Canada is something I wish my mother could have seen.
Favourite place in BC? My son Thomas has property in the outskirts of Quesnel. It’s the place I travel to the most with my family all times throughout the year.
Describe a work of art you created that you can’t part with? I miss a lot of the jewellery I made long ago. I wish that I did not part with all of the pieces.
Emerging artist whose work you love? My daughter Kelly has the most amazing design proficiency. Her work is recognizable to me. I know that she is blessed with talents that she loves to share.
When is the last time you were really moved by a work of art/performance? I really like film. In particular, documentaries. Watermark is a very well made documentary which I recently rewatched.
When you learned to carve, it was definitely not a woman’s pursuit. What did you love about it? I have always found wood carving to be meditative. It is different from carving jewellery because there is more space to move around and unlike metal, the grain in cedar is something to get along with.
Best advice you’ve ever given? I always tell aspiring artists to spend more time perfecting a piece. With the tools we have to work with today, everything can be so accurate.
What are you most looking forward to? Spending more time with my family in Quesnel this summer.
What does a perfect day look like? The flowers in my garden, until I see weeds that need to be pulled.
What is the most important issue facing the arts and culture sector today? Funding for arts in general. Art and culture, the record of all human history, is always the first to be cut when budgets are tight.
What’s the optimum environment for you to create art? I find almost all of my inspiration from either being outdoors or memories of being there.
You apply for up to eight public projects a year. What is your next large public art installation? I am currently working on a project for Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington.
You told the Vancouver Sun that “because I’m First Nations, I’m categorized as a Coast Salish, First Nations artist. I’d prefer just being called an artist.” What makes you say this? Artists of the past are remembered for their talent, not where they came from.
Do you see the full design in your mind before you begin to create, or is the design born from working on it? A rough idea is always enhanced by seeing it in a different way while working on it.
Who are your influences, guides and/or mentors? My mother Edna Grant, and my uncles Dominic Point and Mike Kew.
The current show at Museum of Vancouver, Haida Now, shows hundreds of works. At the same time the exhibition strongly supports repatriation. What's your view on this? I believe the works belong at home, if the home territory can support it with a preserving environment. It should definitely be up to each nation to have an agreement with museums regarding their own history. Our cultures are very much alive, not like forgotten Mayan, or Egyptian history.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? Deforestation and the pollution in the oceans. Chief Dan George from Tsleil-Waututh said it best:
The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the sea,
speaks to me.
The faintness of the stars,
the freshness of the morning,
the dew drop on the flower,
speaks to me.
The strength of fire,
the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun,
And the life that never goes away,
They speak to me.
And my heart soars