Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ ‘Carpe Fin’ Tells Its Story at Seattle Art Museum

Commissioned by SAM, the new piece is a 6-by-19-foot watercolor mural condensing a Haida folktale into one immense color-drenched panel

By Gavin Borchert

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November 1, 2019

This article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This article appears in print in the November 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Sensing an affinity between the iconography of his First Nation art tradition and the boldness and sweep of the Japanese film/graphic-novel visual style known as manga, Haida visual artist and British Columbia resident Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas combines the two—“committed to,” as he puts it, “hybridity as a positive force that opens a third space for critical engagement.” His first “Haida manga,” the graphic novel Red, came out in 2009. His follow-up is a new commission from the Seattle Art Museum, Carpe Fin, a 6-by-19-foot watercolor mural condensing a Haida folktale into one immense color-drenched panel. (You can also see the mural in book form, each of its 120 pages a section of the whole, upon Carpe Fin’s publication date, October 19.) The mural conveys a vitally timely moral—a warning about the dangers of human disconnection from the natural world—and is accompanied in this exhibit by Yahgulanaas’ drawings and sketches, together with artifacts by indigenous peoples of the Northwest. 11/1/19–11/1/2020. Seattle Art Museum, downtown

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