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Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas: Carpe Fin

November 1, 2020 - March 7, 2021


Carpe Fin is a major commission for SAM’s collection by Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. This monumental work has been created as a “Haida manga,” a unique approach developed by Yahgulanaas that blends several artistic and cultural traditions, including Haida formline art, Japanese manga, Pop Art, and graphic novels.

The artist populates this 6 x 19–foot watercolor mural with figures, landscapes, and action scenes inspired by a traditional Haida oral story: a sea mammal hunter goes in pursuit of food to feed his starving community and is taken underwater to the realm of a powerful spirit. The story is also linked to a 19th-century headdress in SAM’s collection carved by Yahgulanaas’s relative, Albert Edward Edenshaw. Carpe Fin calls attention to issues of environmental degradation and the rupture of the values that honor human-nature interdependence.

This new installation also includes the artist’s drawings and sketches for Carpe Fin, a naaxin (Chilkat Robe) and pattern board, and the Sakíi.id headdress.

Funding for this installation was made possible by
The MacRae Foundation

Image: Carpe Fin (detail), 2018, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Haida, b. 1954, watercolor and ink on handmade Japanese paper, 6.5 x 19.7 ft., Seattle Art Museum, Ancient and Native American Art Acquisition Fund, McRae Foundation and Karen Jones, 2018.30, © Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.




Seattle Art Museum


Wheelchair accessible, ASL interpretation, Assistive listening devices, Service Animals allowed
BIPOC artist(s)
Event Type
Pandemic Info


Seattle Art Museum
1300 1st Ave
Seattle, WA 98101 United States
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