Giclée Edition 99 Released May 2012
Many of our ancient ancestor stories revolve around the theme of transformation. Sometimes early peoples were changed into rocks or geographical features. Other times, they were made into the form of animals that live in our environment. While these stories may seem far-fetched to some, we are able to witness real-life transformation in nature, today. From the change of seasons to the life phases of the butterfly, transformation surrounds us. For our people, though, the transformation of the sockeye salmon has always been one of the most significant.
A life cycle that begins in a small stream, ventures into a lake and meanders into the vastness of the ocean is capped off by one of nature’s great spectacles. As the sockeye salmon returns from its long journey, it somehow finds its way back to the river and stream of its birth. Upon entering fresh water, it begins to change. The outward appearance of the male is the most pronounced and startling as it develops a humped back, snarling teeth and grotesquely hooked snout. Rapidly, the silver school of salmon become a striking scarlet ribbon. They fight with one another and with the strong flow of the river to make their way upstream. After the long fight, they find a mate and spawn. The length and brutality of the struggle leaves the salmon spent. They have no choice but to succumb to their death. All is not lost, though, as the salmon carcasses that line the banks of the rivers and streams sustain the local wildlife population. The transformation is complete and the life cycle continues....
When I was drawing this image, I couldn’t help but think about the human analogy: men whose bodies change while looking for a mate. They enter a bar with puffed out backs, snarling teeth and grotesquely pumped arms. They sometimes fight and brawl to seek the admiration of a woman. Sadly, this sometimes works and the life cycle continues....
Andy Everson was born in Comox, BC in 1972 and named Na̱gedzi after his grandfather, the late Chief Andy Frank of the K’ómoks First Nation. Andy has also had the honour of being seated with the ‘Na̱mg̱is T̓sit̓sa̱ł'walag̱a̱me' name of Ḵ̓wa̱mxa̱laga̱lis I'nis. Influenced heavily by his grandmother, he has always been driven to uphold the traditions of both the K’ómoks and Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw First Nations. In this regard, Andy has pursued avenues where he can sing traditional songs and perform ceremonial dances at potlatches and in a number of different dance groups, most notably the Le-La-La Dancers, the Gwa'wina Dancers and the K’umugwe Dancers.
Pursuing other areas of traditional culture has also led Andy to complete a Master’s degree in anthropology. Because the K’ómoks First Nation lies on the border between the larger Salish and Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw realms, his thesis focused on notions and expressions of contemporary Comox identity. His work in anthropology provided him with a background in linguistics which subsequently inspired him to create a company, Copper Canoe, Inc, that specialized in the creation of Aboriginal language media.
Andy feels that his artwork stands on par with these other accomplishments. Although he began drawing Northwest Coast art at an early age, Andy's first serious attempt wasn’t until 1990 when he started designing and painting chilkat-style blankets for use in potlatch dancing. From these early self-taught lessons, he has tried to follow in the footsteps of his Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw relatives in creating bold and unique representations that remain rooted in the age-old traditions of his ancestors. The ability to create and print most of his own work has allowed Andy to explore and express his ancestral artwork in a number of contemporary ways.