Shaun Qwalsius Peterson
Shaun Peterson was born in Puyallup, Washington in 1975.
He began pursuing the art of his native heritage (Puyallup/Tulalip) shortly after graduating high school. In similar ways to his ancestors, Shaun sought out the guidance of master artisans to share technique, insight, and discipline to the complex world of Northwest Coast Native art. Among the first of the artists to share his experience was artist Steve Brown. Brown's curatorial knowledge lent to Shaun’s development in being able to characterize the artistic distinctions from one cultural group to the next. All along Shaun's pursuit to expand his visual vocabulary, he has created many works by way of screen printing, painting, wood, metal and glass sculpture.
In 2005, Shaun received the Native name Qwalsius, which belonged to his great grandfather. In receiving the name by tradition, Shaun accepted responsibility to honour his immediate family through his creative expression as well as his community and ancestors who brought the art to art to where it is now.
Shaun states: “I believe that the art itself has been most responsible for preserving our stories through intrigue and curiosity. Through I work in a variety of media I keep in mind that it's not the media that drives the works themselves but the story of feeling it is supposed to carry to the observer.”
Shaun gratefully acknowledges his mentors, Greg Colfax (Makah) and Loren White, whose influence brought him to where he is as an individual.
2011 “Coast Salish Masterworks”, Coastal Peoples Gallery
Yellow Cedar wood, Red Cedar wood, Glass, Etched, Sandblasted, LED Illumination, Acrylic paint
“This piece is a representation of the Moon which is [an] ancestral part of our mythology. Moon is said to have been the great leader who changed great things in his time among our people. Being half human and half sky being, he was part of the people. This depiction in particular, shows the Salmon numbered in five, which also denotes the number used in defining Puyallup stories as these are shared through the Puget Sound.” – Shaun Peterson
The artist has mixed conventional Northwest Coast materials with modern media to create this moon panel, Keeper of the Tide.
The central figure represents the face of the moon. In Northwest Coast culture, the Moon is regarded as a symbol of protection and guardianship. The Moon is often associated with transformation.
Using sandblasted glass, Shaun has incorporated swimming salmon circling the Moon’s face. Salmon are honoured and celebrated by all coastal peoples: the fish serves as a powerful symbol of regeneration, self-sacrifice, and perseverance. Shortages of salmon are traditioally attributed to human disrespect and refusal to listen to and live by the wisdom of elders.