Art for Sea to Sky: Seen
Seen – 36”x36” – 2021 – acrylic on canvas
Connection. Relationships. The web of life. This piece was inspired by the story of the salmon- or at least the last chapter of that story. Deep in the rich cedar forests and clear streams of the Cheakamus/Ch'iyákmesh Valley salmon make their way back to the spawning grounds where they were born. After depositing fertilized eggs into the stream beds, they die, but this is not where their story ends. Their bodies are returned to the cycle of life. Not only as food for countless species from microscopic bacteria to Eagles (Sp’aḵw’us) and Grizzly Bears (Stl’alhalem); but also broken down into nutrients that feed the forest floor.
The Western Red cedar is one of the most important species to the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people. Every spring cedar bark is harvested and used to make strong and durable rope, regalia, hats and baskets. The bark is carefully peeled to ensure health and survival of the tree. But when European settlers arrived the value of the cedar was too tempting to resist. Logging began in Atl’ka7tsem and to this day remains one of the Sound’s largest and most impactful industries.
It is said that the great cedar forests of the west coast grow tall because of the bodies of salmon. Once we begin to ‘see’ these subtle connections we may come to realize the importance of promoting healthy relationships between all species.