Called “Tulalip People,” the piece was created using Madison’s contemporary representation of traditional Coast Salish design. The aluminum sculpture features a fish-ladder effect with native salmon and eggs depicting the Snohomish people, birth and life, children and elders. The sculpture consists of five rectangular boxes with plasma cut images and stands more than 15 feet tall.
Madison, a member of the Tulalip Tribes, began to learn to carve at the age of eight. He and his cousins grew up immersed in their art and culture, learning how to carve from their grandfather. Madison’s father, an abstract painter, influenced James early on, encouraging him to add another dimension to his art and to sculpt rather than to simply carve. Madison’s uncle, a teacher of Native American art, also was an influence. It didn’t take long for an intense interest in art to develop, and Madison went on to study art at the University of Washington after graduating high school. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 2000.
Today, his artwork contains traditional Salish elements and designs, featured in a variety of contemporary mediums such as glass, bronze and stainless steel. He is also a Master Wood Carver, and many of his large-scale pieces can be found at the Tulalip Resort and Casino, including a 24-foot story pole. Madison is also an art consultant to the Tulalip Tribes.