Artist Profile - Shawn Brigman
Shawn Brigman is an enrolled member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. As a traditional artisan for 13 years, his creative practice has been one of project based ancestral recovery efforts in Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia, exploring and transforming the way people read Plateau architectural space by celebrating the physical revival of ancestral Plateau art and architectural heritage. This involves working with communities to connect to sources of Indigenous knowledge, often taking learners out to ancestral lands to gather a diverse range of natural materiality for ancestral structures like tule mat lodges, pit houses, and most recently the lost art of sturgeon nose canoes. Sturgeon nose canoe shapes, construction techniques, and other characteristics are generated from centuries old local patterns. Although there is diversity within the styles of northern Plateau sturgeon nose canoes, the principles of construction are the same and often the styles overlap with only subtle differences.
Shawn received 2017 GAP Award funding to facilitate the recovery of paddle design and carving during the fall and winter of 2017. These paddle designs would then be shared with communities in the summer of 2018 by physically transporting, displaying, and “brushing the water” in sturgeon nose canoes at festivals, youth programs, relevant community events, and college/university educational settings when they arise. Completion of culturally relevant paddle designs is important at this time as a parallel movement to the current revitalization and recovery of canoe culture in Eastern Washington with the recent 1st annual canoe journey in 2016 to the historic Kettle Falls fishery location on the upper Columbia River. Moving forward into the future, demonstrations on paddle carving will also be shared, as communities require cultural specific paddles designed for their community sturgeon nose canoes.