Homestretch – Artist Proof – 1992
EXHIBITION:Barry Herem: Wood. Glass. Paper. Steel.
The salmon swing landward from the sea through the riverine estuaries, into the great rivers of the Northwest Coast; the Alsek, Chilkat, Taku, the Nass and Skeena, the Frazer, Skagit and Columbia, in an annual bounty of sustenance. This determined the life as well as the politics of the people it touched (great villages and their chiefs always controlled access to the great runs).
The irony is never missed – that as the salmon comple their life-giving homestretch, they also expend the last of their own lives: to spawn and die.
Although I cannot distinguish by name or shape all of the varieties of salmon on the Pacific Northwest Coast, it is my hope that most of them have been rendered in this serigraph. One and all, they historically provided the basis of life for Northwest Coast Indian society and became the only animal which was singled out to be regularly honored by a ritual ceremony of recognition and gratitude. Perhaps it is fitting then that each of the eleven fish in this print have been rendered in a wide range of variations within what is knows as the “formline” graphic art system of the Northwest Coast. This has been an exercise in the use of that system and is as much a celebration of its inate genius (not mine) and stylistic possibilities as of the salmon themselves.
This is a three-color serigraph (silkscreen) limited to 195 images with 20 artists’ proofs, and one Printer’s copy. It has been printed on 100% rag paper of archival quality and was printed by Jim Hunziker in conjunction with the artist.