Synopses & Reviews
Spirit Faces presents an outstanding collection of 75 masks by 23 contemporary Native American artists. These breathtakingly beautiful and powerful masks, all illustrated in color, depict creatures such as Eagle or Killer Whale, natural elements and forces such as Moon or Weather, humans, and supernatural beings such as Thunderbird or the Chief of the Undersea.
Masks are an important part of ceremonial life on the Northwest Coast; they make the supernatural world visible and bring it to life in dance dramas performed at feasts and potlatches, or at winter ceremonies held by secret societies. Some masks embody mythology or history. Others depict shamanic experiences, or are portrait masks that represent personal experience. The most elaborate are transformation masks, which are used to display the transition from one form to another, such as Wolf to Human. At the high point of the dance, the dancer will open the outer mask to reveal another one inside.
Spirit Faces collects 75 masks by 23 of the best living Native American artists in the Northwest. These beautiful and powerful masks draw on the natural and supernatural worlds to depict such archetypal characters as Eagle, Moon, and Thunderbird. The mask is an important part of ceremonial life on the Northwest Coast. It makes the supernatural world visible in dance dramas performed at feasts and in winter ceremonies held by secret societies. Some masks embody mythology or history, others depict shamanic or human experiences. Each mask pictured here is accompanied by the artist's own words describing its creation and meaning. With an introduction by Gary Wyatt - a leading authority on Native American art of the Northwest - explaining the importance, meaning, and ceremonial use of these masks, and the role of art in First Nations' culture, Spirit Faces is a spectacular look at a vibrant and venerable tradition.