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Seahawks Madness: Mask to be Displayed at Burke Museum

The Northwest Coast mask that inspired the team logo comes home to roost

By Seattle Mag November 3, 2014

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This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Seattle Magazine.

In the days leading up to the Super Bowl last year, a class of University of Washington art history students took their own slant on the citywide fan frenzy—by seeking out the origins of the Seahawks logo. They soon learned that the distinctive bird face, created for the team in the mid-1970s, was very likely based on an indigenous eagle mask made by the Kwakwaka’wakw tribe in the Vancouver Island area. A blog post about the research somehow reached the University of Maine’s Hudson Museum—which had the mask in its collection. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, the mask has been shipped to Seattle and will be displayed this month at UW’s Burke Museum as part of Here and Now: Native Artists Inspired. The Burke is also providing travel for Kwakwaka’wakw community members to participate and share historical knowledge. As for how the mask ended up across the country, exhibit curator Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse is still researching its path. (She has learned that at some point, it was in the collection of surrealist artist Max Ernst, who was inspired by Native American art.) And while the Seahawks connection is exciting, Bunn-Marcuse says what’s more important is how this new opportunity can increase our understanding of the cultural origins behind the mask, and underline the lasting impact of indigenous art all around us. 11/22–7/27/2015. $7.50–$10. Burke Museum, UW campus; 206.543.5590; burkemuseum.org

 

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