Monday
Dec152014

The Why behind Designing Sealth's Hawk

I will start this entry by stating, this design is an original design based on the style of work I create in which is Coast Salish style indigenous to the Tacoma - Seattle area in Washington state. I began my journey as an artist under a misconception that the totem poles and formline art in the urban areas was something of my heritage only to discover several different origins. The Seahawks logo for example was inspired by a mask the belonged to the Kwakwaka’wakw people of Canada. It is much like the totem pole of Pioneer square that also came from elsewhere. However, those images have long swayed the ideas of many people for decades, myself included on what Native art is in the Seattle area.

It has long been my goal to explore the art of my heritage and be part of a bigger picture, one that includes the exploration of new ideas. When most people think of Native art they think of red and black designs, Indians on horseback hunting buffalo or a totem pole at the waterfront. The Coast Salish of which Seattle is named after Chief Sealth have been overlooked for many years. Knowing this I wanted to create something that would pay respect to the leader in a style of art that comes from a descendant of his nation.

I see today so often things that are 'Native Inspired' but few things Native designed. In doing the work I do and reaching out to friends and colleagues in the same practice I hope to help make that a change for a new generation. Rather than create from outside of the culture I am creating from within it. 

Sunday
Oct262014

Happy Sunday Hawk Fans

Here's for my friends and family who are Seahawk fanatical. I named it Sealth's Hawk to also acknowledge Chief Sealth for which the city is named. I hope you all like the animation as it took quite some time to work on in After Effects. For more info on how to purchase the print click here. Go Hawks!

Saturday
Oct182014

Appropriations of a different kind

Normally there would be some ranty text from me sounding off like an old man complaining about hipsters in headdresses here but hold up. This is an entry of a new kind. My friend Jeffrey Veregge (Port Gamble S'Klallam) who was recently down my way visiting Portland shared with me a concern about someone gaining recognition for merging Northwest Coast Native art with Modern iconography. This is Jeffs background and what has defined his work which was not easy to establish. To boot this guy's work took on one of my friends whom I've had great respect for for many years, Kwakwaka’wakw/Comox artist Andy Everson. I consider Andy a pioneer in artists breaking ground in the digital arts and subject matter. These two come from Native communities and have established themselves with experiences much like my own with statements from people of not doing things the Indian way and so forth. When I once spoke to Andy about this over the phone I always remember him saying

"They love to bring up how we didn't use computers etc. but if I'm drawing with a pencil, they forget there was a time when we didn't have those either so why not go all out and say that too"

I guess my point here is that Native artists face different expectations on how we should be doing things, keeping in tradition. This has been a sore spot with me for years as a sculptor and one who loves to utilize technology in all kinds of ways from initial design to installation or site plan layouts. My point is, Native culture has been one of adaptation. We do not live in the world our ancestors did before certain technologies were brought in. It's a false romantic notion that our ancestors would be ashamed of us now for using chain saws or computers. Had that been true our earliest trades would have never called to trade our goods for tools steel and the like for it's those imports that made the sculptures people stand in awe of came from. I say this as a Native artist knowing where I come from and the culture I am still part of today thriving in song and dance and legend.

This movement that has been active in waves for years of people taking interest in Native culture is and I believe will always be ongoing. The latest wave of hipsters donning headdresses claiming one tribe and to not judge. Well as a Native American I can say, there is no One tribe, there are many. Being part of a tribe doesn't grant you privilege by birth or adoption to do whatever you want and 'live free'. Had this been true tribes would never have survived. One of our most inaccurate but reocurring stereotypes is of our people whoop calling and dancing around a fire in chaos. There is order and there is a way to do things. One can go there whole life without having a role in certain aspect of ceremonial practices but they are just as well off as anyone else. Being Indian isn't about dancing around a fire or being wild, to me it's about being part of something and respecting your place in the bigger picture.

I preface all this because I feel it's important to know. The designer in question Scott Erickson has gotten some praise for his Northwest Coast Native 'style' of work married with pop culture, specifically Sci-fi creations. It came to my attention and it was immediately bothersome to know people have no boundaries. As I stated above, I have great respect for Andy and when speaking in public share how he was quite influential in me making the move to do digital work early on. I believe when an artist even one who steals, has to acknowledge the inspiration behind something, but when I read titles like "Great Sun Bear" and "Grey Eagle Wolf" it sounds like a mockery of Native culture. It motivated me to compile the side by side in this post. That's all I have to say for now. Please share if you like. Know that his prints are selling on his website but to support the true creators of the content and concepts.

Andy's site is www.andyeverson.com

Jeff's site is www.jeffreyveregge.com

Tuesday
Oct072014

Opening Preview with Isabell

Exhibiting at Stonington alongside Isabel RorickIt was an honor to exhibit my preview work along side legendary Haida weaver Isabel Rorick. The evening was amazing. Thankful to those who were able to attend. It inspired me to forge ahead in continuing the studio renovation/move so that I can start carving for the big launch (date TBD) which I will be sure to keep posted on here. Also I've made the decision to make a Facebook page dedicated to the art work alone. If you haven't already go over there and like the page to keep updated on what's going on in the studio and coming up. More photos of the portfolio will start to make it's way over there including process and video clips. Thanks for following and supporting the work.

Tuesday
Sep162014

Show preview

Super Moon off the press

As some of you who follow my work at Stonington Gallery in Seattle, Washington might have noticed, I have an exhibition coming up next month. I wanted to post an update so that those who attend are not surprised at the amount of work on display and to explain. This exhibit was planned over 6 months ago and at the time I was not planning to move my studio. At the middle of Summer I decided I would for personal reasons and needless to say it had a huge impact on my ability to produce work while in transition. As you've noticed with my previous postings I have been moving and unboxing with concentration on the office before I can even attempt to set the studio up. In the interim I am planning to work with friends in their local spaces until I can get the shop in order.

So I guess what I'm saying is, when the show opens it will be regarded as a 'preview' and that the full exhibition will roll out some time in the first quarter of next year. I will be sure to post announcements. It is disappointing but the good news is there is new creative juices flowing and the glass team I work with is based now within a 20min drive vs a 3hr one. As well, I've discovered that you really are reminded of who you are when you are when you are out of your setting and that I'm sure will be the case here. To new adventures.