Margaret August – Curator’s Choice Winter 2023blog
ART AS IDENTITY
As you stand before any work of art, the voice and identity of the artist embrace your senses with open arms. Art and identity are intertwined in a dance that has been performed by humanity since the first artisans formed the wondrous natural world into media.
Margaret August is one such artist. Born in the unceded Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories of Victoria, British Columbia, this is where they live and create to this day.
Margaret is part of a new generation of upcoming artists from the Shíshálh First Nation, of which there have been many from the past to the present.
Margaret first found a connection to their lineage through music. In and around 2010, they began a new journey of expression as they broke into the art world. Today, they sing through the color, crescents, and circles that are key artistic elements of the Coast Salish.
Margaret’s Two-Spirit identity is ever present in their art. A fluidity of femininity and masculinity is reinforced through their ancestral power crest figure Skw’etu’? and is seen frequently throughout their work.
In the Shashishalhem language, Skw’etu’? means Raven. A creature of creation and shape-shifting, many stories involve Raven as the transformer and is known as the gatekeeper to the universal void where no form or structure exists.
This perpetual transformation is a central theme seen across their portfolio. Most recognizable in works such as Two Spirit Rising and Highest Level, the mirrored imagery of Raven reflects this aspect of self in an undeniably vibrant wave of stunning creativity.
“Creating Coast Salish art is an expression of the knowledge of our ancestors” – Margaret August.
Margaret’s connection to their ancestors is tangible in their demonstration of identity throughout their ever-growing collection of works. They leave their audience with a glimpse of a progressive world where Indigenous heritage continues to invoke pride, connection, and artistic expression.