Margaret August is a contemporary, Two-Spirited, Coast Salish artist from Shíshálh Nation. Margaret was born in 1983 on traditional unceded Lekwungen and Wasanec territories, where she currently resides.
Margaret grew up in the urban setting, which drives her art. A strong contribution to Margaret’s work is her ancestral power animal symbol, Skw’etu’? (Raven). Skw’étu? is a word for Raven in shashishalhem language, located in shishalh territory West off Vancouver BC. Margaret’s lineage is from xenichen village. Skw’etu’? is known to be the light bringer in darkness. Origin stories told throughout generations say it was Raven that stole the sun from an old man who wanted to keep the world in darkness. Ravens are the gatekeepers to the void of Spirit where there is no form or structure, but fluidity and constant change. Skw’etu’? utilizes their characteristics of mystical shape shifting to teach Earth’s inhabitants their individual life lessons.
Margaret began developing her artistic talents through singing and playing music at an early age, this was a time where she was learning how to create traditional Native art through Butch Dick. Today, some of her influences to her artistic style include Susan Point, lessLIE, Chris Paul, Luke/John Marston, and Maynard Johnny Jr. Margaret has been showing her work in community art shows since 2010. Since 2013, she began to make giclee prints and developing her business skills in becoming an established artist.
These varied art experiences as well as ancestral gifts have shaped Margaret to better understand her life’s direction. Margaret’s overall philosophy as a contemporary Native artist is to nurture the importance to present community with art that creates change and sense of hope in her works of art.
Today, Margaret is incorporating computer software training under the guidance and mentorship of fellow Coast Salish Artist, Mark Gauti to integrate her current work with design technology with the Emerging Artist grant she has received through First People’s Cultural Council. This allows the time, mentorship and equipment to move away from traditional printmaking and painting to the digital art world.