Abstract

Abstract:

This essay examines the relationship between Nuu-chah-nulth ancestral belongings assembled on the third voyage of James Cook and a set of eighteenth-century watercolor albums produced in London by Sarah Stone. The translation of Mowachaht/Muchalaht material heritage from Nootka Sound (Vancouver Island) into watercolor image-proxies allows us to follow their storied social lives: their cultural significance prior to leaving their homelands and shorelines; their position in the collection and display of "artificial curiosities" at Sir Ashton Lever museum in Leicester Square, London; their replication by Stone, an artist who tested the boundaries of watercolor as a gendered "polite" art; and their present-day meanings for Nuu-chah-nulth creators and the descendants of those who met Cook in 1778. By attending to the various elisions between object and image, this research explores the potential of historic ethnographic archives and collections to produce a multiplicity of readings across various communities of knowledge, cultures, and time periods.

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