At the peak of 12th Man mania during last year’s Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl run, the art history students in UW professor and Burke Museum’s Native American art curator Robin K. Wright’s class weren’t thinking about Richard Sherman’s trash talking or Russell Wilson’s tight spirals. They wanted to know the origins of the Seahawks logo. While the original design clearly drew from native Northwest art, was there a specific inspirational artifact?
Wright actually knew the answer. Years ago Burke emeritus curator Bill Holm had shared a photo of a transformation eagle mask crafted by the Kwakwaka’wakw people of British Columbia. But Wright still had no way of finding the mask’s current whereabouts. After posting about the mask on the Burke’s blog, she received a surprising notification of its current home: the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine. The museums quickly began to discuss bringing the mask to Seattle.
In November the artifact landed at the Burke as part of Here and Now: Native Artists Inspired. The exhibit celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Bill Holm Center by showcasing 30 new works presented alongside the artifacts in the Burke’s collection (including the mask) that served as inspiration. There are no plans to keep the mask in Seattle beyond the run of the exhibit, so gaze at this piece of Seahawks history before it flies back home.
Thru July 27 Here and Now: Native Artists Inspired, Burke Museum, burkemuseum.org
This article appeared in the December 2014 issue of Seattle Met magazine.