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i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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George Pennier



alder wood, shredded cedar bark, pigment and graphite, signed, inscribed on the reverse with title, Very good condition.

Please contact the specialist for further condition information.

14 x 12.5 x 6.5 in — 35.6 x 31.8 x 16.5 cm

Private collection, Toronto, ON

Rendered with exceptional precision and formal clarity, George Pennier has created a mask in the manner of a Northern Northwest Coast carver. Once thought an essential tool of the shaman, masks could be used by the novice to call on the mysterious and little-understood powers of the mythological Land Otter, a creature referenced in the inscription on the back of Pennier’s mask. [1] Such spirits were essential to help the shaman navigate the dangerous liminal space between life and death, an interaction nodded to by the upturned eyes and slackened mouth of the present mask.

A skillful blending of historic and contemporary styles, Pennier’s Land Otter, Shaman mask has benefited from the artist's control of material and attention to subtleties of form. It is noteworthy that although of Sto:Lo Salish birth, Pennier often worked in a distinctly high-Northwest Coast style. Trained under hereditary Kwakwaka’wakw chief and artist Tony Hunt, and later studying under Kwakwaka’wakw activist and master carver Beau Dick, Pennier’s influences were diverse. This openness to cultural exchange is not without precedent on the historic Northwest Coast, where the exchange of styles, and even ritual objects among otherwise largely distinct peoples has occurred in several documented instances. [2]

Important examples of Pennier’s sculpture are rare to market, although a small number of his works may be viewed in the collections of public institutions such as Burke Museum, Seattle, and the Seattle Art Museum.

(1) Allen Wardwell, Tangible Visions: Northwest Coast Indian Shamanism and its Art, (New York: Monacelli Press, 2009), 109.
(2) Mary Malloy, Souvenirs of the First Trade: Northwest Coast Art and Artifacts Collected by American Mariners, 1788-1844, (Massachusetts: Peabody Press, 2012)

Related Works:
Burke Museum, Cat. No. 2004-2/153—See: Robin K. Wright and Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Contemporary Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum, (Washington: University of Washington Press, 2015), 104.
Seattle Art Museum, Col. No. 2014.8.4

Estimate: $3,000—5,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2022-06-09 Waddington's 78 3,000 5,000 3,000.00

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