Susan Point – Ancestral Guardian

Susan Point
Coast Salish (Musqueam), born 1952

Ancestral Guardian  (Spindle Whorl)
Carved glass


Susan Point grew up on the Musqueam First Nation Reserve, at the mouth of the Fraser River in what is now Vancouver, British Columbia. She began her career as an artist in the early 1980’s, starting with metalwork and printmaking, using traditional Coast Salish design as a starting-point. She now works with an array of materials, including wood, stone, glass, bronze, copper, silver, and bone. She has developed a highly distinctive style and color palette while continuing to draw inspiration from Coast Salish motifs. Numerous works take their form from tools such as mat creasers and spindle whorls.

In the 1990’s, Susan began creating large-scale sculptures and has received more than thirty-five commissions for public art pieces. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has received an Indspire Achievement Award, a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, a BC Creative Achievement Award, and a Civic Merit Award from the City of Vancouver. She holds honorary doctorates from the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Her work has been exhibited in over sixty group exhibitions and a dozen solo shows, including Susan Point: Spindle Whorl at the Vancouver Art Gallery, February-May, 2017.

Friday Harbor’s waterfront became home to Susan Point’s Interaction, a cedar house-post sculpture, in 2004. The sculpture symbolizes long-overdue recognition of San Juan Island’s Coast Salish heritage as well as the need for current and future residents of these islands to honor and preserve the natural environment.

Susan describes her role as an artist in these words: “The task of my generation is to remember all that was taught, and pass that knowledge and wisdom on to our children.” Her work ensures the perpetuation of key elements of her Coast Salish heritage while giving expression to her innovative and contemporary artistic vision.

Spindle Whorl

The spindle whorl is a Coast Salish tool consisting of a disk, usually made of wood, with a rod inserted through the center. Often painted and decorated, it was used by Coast Salish women to spin wool for weaving.