Measuring nearly 10.5 feet tall and weighing approximately 1,200 pounds, The Weaver's Welcome greets visitors at the new Burke Museum with its palms facing up and out, a traditional Coast Salish gesture of welcome.
While traditional welcome figures are made of wood, The Weaver's Welcome is made of cast glass. The sculpture is composed of three separate pieces—the head and the left and right sides of the body—held together by fabricated steel.
The sculpture is a collaboration between the artists Brian Perry (Port Gamble S'Klallam), Anthony Jones Sr. (Port Gamble S'Klallam), Preston Singletary (Tlingit), and David Franklin. The artists sought to pay tribute to the Coast Salish people whose land Seattle (and the Burke Museum) sits on.
The relief work on the corona reflects a Northern Salish Sea design style, commonly found on spindle whorls used in weaving on the southern coast of British Columbia. The face of the welcomer is inspired by Salish and Makah style facial sculpture and wears a typical Salish woven hat decorated with a common pattern in local Native weaving.
Elements of basketry served as a major source of inspiration. The triangles that run down the sides are in the design style of communities from the Southern Salish Sea down to the Columbia River. Up close, viewers can see ridges in the glass, made to evoke the texture of baskets.
The steel chest the glass sculpture sits on is inspired by a small Quinault bentwood box in the Burke's permanent collection, the white dots representing beaded inlays in the wood. Those beads are an example of some of the first glass art in our region. One side of the chest is the moon over water, while the other side is the sun and mountains.
The translucent blue color of the sculpture represents water. In the newly reopened Burke Museum's window-filled Grand Atrium, The Weaver's Welcome is situated near the staircase, where the sunlight can pass through the blue glass, seemingly illuminating the figure from within.
The Burke Museum reopened this past October in a new Tom Kundig–designed building at the University of Washington. In addition to historical objects like baskets and carvings, the natural history museum's collection includes things like leaf fossils and dinosaur bones.