Shaun Peterson – Qwalsius

Shaun Peterson – Qwalsius

Shaun Peterson was born in Puyallup, Washington in 1975.  He began pursuing the art of his Native heritage shortly after graduating from high school.   In the way of his ancestors, Shaun sought out the guidance of master artisans to share technique, discipline and insight into the complex world of Northwest Coast Native art.
Peterson is able to blend seemingly disparate traditions in a seamless way, presenting works that connote many different Coast Salish influences simultaneously. His drawings, prints and glass panels present images that seem plucked from a deep, timeless past, yet remain vibrant and fresh.

Peterson uses both traditional and digital tools to realize his visions, often mixing various media to achieve a harmonious piece.  Many of his works reference specific myths or story cycles, and manage to encompass the emotional core of each tale in a single frozen image.

In the fall of 2005 the artist received the Native name that belonged to his Great Grandfather; Qwalsius. In the tradition of receiving the name Peterson accepted responsibility to honor not only his immediate family through his art, but the community of which he is part, as well as the ancestors who brought the art to where it is now. In 2010 Peterson’s ambitious 20 ft tall, Salish-style “welcome pole” was raised in Tacoma, WA in Tollefson Plaza. As part of a public art collaboration between the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma Art Museum and the Puyallup tribe, it was ten years in the making.

Peterson was chosen in 2015 to be one of a handful of artists who will create major site-specific works for Seattle’s renovated waterfront.

 I believe that the art itself has been most responsible for preserving our stories through intrigue and curiosity.  Though I work in a variety of media I keep in mind that it’s not the media that drives the works themselves but the story or feeling it is supposed to carry to the observer.                                                                                     –Shaun Peterson