Welcome Figure – Painted Red
EXHIBITION:Barry Herem: Solo Exhibition
The “Welcome Figure” is based on a traditional carved motif of “Home Figure” which was often found on house doorways and retainer wall planks in the long houses of the Tlingit, who are from the islands and inlets of the northern Northwest Coast. The figure is particularly well known due to its presence in the Hauberg collection of Whale House, circa 1820 and dismantled in 1899.
The widespread human face with its outspread arms, legs and human hands has been interpreted in various ways; some see it as a soldier ascending into heaven, others consider it an abstracted being jumping for joy and an indication of the beauty and mystery of the Northern lights. Most agree it is a figure of home and hearth as it was always placed at the entrance to a home, near the fire.
The abridged form “Welcome Figure,” with the emphasized face and hands is a synthesis of greeting, home and history.