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Connie Watts


Connie Watts

Bibliography Works for Sale Gallery of work


double click small images for larger detailed veiw.

Looking down on Vereinigung in the South Building Atrium, Grad Show'96.

 

Visitors to ECIAD's 1996 grad show. will not forget Vereinigung.

Connie Watts's massive three-figured plywood sculpture features a bear, a wolf, and a raven whose 7-foot wingspan threatened to tear loose its cables and crash through the skylights of the South Building's lofty atrium. Vereinigung now holds its own among the massive cedar shafts of UBC's Museum of Anthropology, sharing space with Bill Reid's formidable Raven and The First Men. It is difficult to imagine, but the crisscrossed strings

Vereinigung turns in upon itself with meaning, ideas resonating in the spaces between the fragile layers,

and hooks remaining on the ceiling of Watts's small, tidy East Van apartment bear evidence to the fact that one year ago Vereinigung filled the room from computer to kitchen with layers of shape and image, freshly oiled and hung to dry. Connie Watts adapts her art to conform to any space, yet no single niche or category can contain Connie Watts.

Watts grew up in Campbell River of First Nations descent: her mother is Nuu-Chah Nulth and Mamalikala and her father Gakxan. she grew up as "the only brown face" at Evergreen Elementary School in Campbell River, with exposure to the images or traditions of he culture. But she always "thought design," r on her acute sense of visual memory an headstrong determination. Everything s abruptly when, soon after graduating from University of Manitoba in 1991 with a de interior design, Connie Watts was in a car The crash left her with memory loss and debilitating headaches. She moved to Los Angeles where she was able to get by with "a little less upstairs but after two years she found herself unable to design, so in 1993 she came home to Vancouver and to Emily Carr.

Watts enrolled in Industrial Design, but her headaches returned and she switched into Intermedia. This is what Connie Watts calls " easing back"-while continuing to create fabulous native-referenced furniture pieces, she plunged into computer animation and 8mm film, drawing, painting, metal, wood, and fabric.

Vereinigung (German for "unification") represented the culmination of Watts's work at Emily Carr, "bringing together past and present, humans and animals, space and body, real and abstract kind of self-portrait, the figures represent f Watts's character-the wolf a fiercely determined hunter, the bear strong and nurturing, a raven a clever trickster and lover of shiny objects. Each three-dimensional figure is built from layer upon layer of oiled plywood connected hundreds of small dowels-over 600 square home for humans surrounded and provided by animal protectors. Vereinigung turns in upon itself with meaning, ideas resonating in the spaces between the fragile layers.

Watts blurs the line between art and design, melding the aesthetic with the pragmatic. "Everything is a circle," says Watts. "In school I learned about 'form and function', the very Western approach, but when I turn back to my own culture, I use form to delineate space, then I circle back again ... we used to have huge pieces of wood to carve out light and shadow, but now we use what is left plywood. We use what should be precious and beautiful for all the wrong reasons. In Port Alberni they grind up trees to make plywood for row houses. So I use the plywood to make art ... it's all a veneer," she laughs, savoring the pun.

Watts is thrilled to be rediscovering her culture and reclaiming her own language through her art. The ancestral language of her grandmother, NuuChah-Nulth, had been nearly erased through a generation when "you got hit for speaking your own language." Then, two years ago, her mother took a teaching job at the Ha-Ho-Payuk School in Port Alberni, where children are learning the traditions and language of their ancestors. But the Nuu-Chah-Nuith tongue is based in an oral tradition and the only written teaching aids were a handful of photocopied booklets transcribed into international phonetic symbols. The elder Watts called on her versatile daughter for help. "In her spare time," Connie plunged into yet another medium, designing picture-books to teach and reclaim the near-forgotten language. Working side by side with illustrators, teachers, and linguists, Watts completed Huksaa: The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Counting Book and the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Phonetic Alphabet. The books are bright and whimsical jewels, full of delicious illustrations enhanced by Watts's razor-sharp-design sense and- her raven's cheeky humor. And to top it all off, Watts designed the books using only two ink colors from which she somehow coaxed an entire range of rich values-a technical feat which has seasoned graphic designers awestruck.

These days Connie Watts spends a lot of time on the ferry, shuttling back and forth between Vancouver and Port Alberni where she's working on two more language books. She's also working out ideas for an animated film of Raven, Bear, and Wolf, and a drawing for her sister's wedding in which a bold and playful sun enfolds two men, two women, and four salmon. And she's designing the wedding dress. She's feeling stronger every day, her "head coming back," energy radiating in all directions. For all this restless spirit she has her grandma to thank, "who said 'never stop dreaming!' She's 83, and she still gets out there in the garden with the roto-tiller. That's my West Coast upbringing, I can't stop at one thing, I have to just keep on going!"

BIOGRAPHY

I am of First Nations descent. My mother, Jane Watts-Jones, is Tseshaht (Nuu-Chah-Nulth) & Mamalilikla (Kwakwaka'wakwa). My father was from the Gitxsan nation.  I grew up in Campbell River.

I graduated in 1996 from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Intermedia.  I also have a Bachelor of Interior Design (1991) from the University of Manitoba.

In Spring 2001, I exhibited in a duel show, Full Moon l New Moon, at the Indian Arts Centre, Ottawa.  I have shown at the Concourse Gallery (Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design) in two shows: Philosophic Chair and Table of Content; and Here and Now, First Peoples Perspectives.  I was in Raven’s Reprise (2001) and various individual exhibits at the Museum of Anthropology (UBC—Vancouver).   I was included in the Spirit Wrestler Gallery’s (Vancouver) Show Fusion, and continue to show my work at the Stonington Gallery (Seattle), and Quintana Galleries (Portland).  In 1997, I completed an artist’s residence at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Museum (Kleinburg, Ontario).  I received awards and grants for my computer animation, “Witness”, from the Vancouver Foundation and the Canada Arts Council. 

I have continued to do commissioned work for various collectors. One of the most recent commissions included the completion and installation of a large Thunderbird sculpture, "Hetux", for the Vancouver International Airport.

 

Works for Sale

1) "Curiosity"

Edition Size: 1st of 5 (edition of 6), including one artist proof: the artist proof and the second of the edition have sold to private collectors, one in Vancouver and one in Seattle.

Approx Dim: 30” x 54” x 16”

Materials: Mahogany, Aluminium, Alder, & Baltic Birch.

Images: Three seals, a sun, a moon, and two hummingbirds.

¨        Curiosity’s design is made for exploration: to see all the images you literally have to move all the way around the work.  The chosen objects reinforce the qualities of being curious: the three seals are naturally curious; the sun/moon designs create the ebb and flow of the action of being curious; and the sun-hummingbird and moon-hummingbird hold the enduring energy of curiosity.  The variety of material, the curvilinear lines, and compartmentalized design exemplify the character of curiosity.


2) "Play"

One of a Kind

Dimensions: 1’1/4” x 1’4” x 3’0” wpe3.jpg (14245 bytes)

Materials: Powder coated Aluminium & Mahogany.

Images: Outline of the killer whale, a yellow eagle, three seals (one blue and two red), two green bears, a purple wolf, a blue raven, a silver salmon, and a moon.

¨        Play was part of the Show, Full Moon l New Moon 2001.  Play is inclusive of everyone.  Play is postured in the massive strength of the killer whale; this intertribal montage of animals stands as a reminder that ‘playtime’ is an elemental part of our life that makes us feel good and heightens the quality of our lives.  The animals’ playfulness is represented in their postures and expressions.  The animals heads are emphasises as a point where invention and imagination start—good play is well thought out and leads to discovery. 

There are two contrasting sides: Side A—blue raven, aluminium moon, green bear, purple wolf, red hummingbird, and red seal; Side B—yellow eagle, aluminium salmon, red seal, blue seal, green hummingbird, and green bear.  One of the animals from either side is switched in the tail and the hummingbirds are the constants on both sides but are contrasted using complementary colours.

 


3) "Ha!" (1WorkForSale0102)

One of a Kind

Dimensions: 1’6” x 3’0” x 2’8” (5’0” when open)

Materials: Cherry, Baltic birch & Glass.

Images: abstractions of the animals used in the other sculptures in the series.

 

Ha! abstracts part of all the other works in the series (the majority of the series exhibited in Full Moon l New Moon 2001) with a twist of humour and triumph.  It looks like a table; shapes are hidden inside and you can only see colours through the glass windows on the side.  The table actually opens to reveal step like drawers.  Once the table splits open, Play is revealed.  When you begin to open the drawers, the elements of other works and their northwest coast-like script written titles are revealed—elements now become building blocks for language.  Ha! is centred on two basic philosophical statements that remind us in life to be sweet and fly free:

“Ha! Remember Play. Why? Think, Feel, See, Fly Free.” And

“Ha! Remember Play. Why? Think, Feel, Smell, Be Sweet.”

Ha! draws on the emotions, senses and curiosity of the observer.  You have to interact with the work in order to see it all—in life you can’t really understand if you don’t interact, intermix, mingle…play.  It teases your mind with the unusual; the windows allow you to see what’s in the drawer but the drawer doesn’t let you get at its contents as easily as the windows let you see it.

 


 

4) "Remember" (1WorkForSale0102)

One of a Kind

Dimensions: 2’2 3/4” x 2’7 1/4” x 6’3”

Materials: Red cedar, Tiger wood, Stainless steel, Baltic birch, Mahogany & Powder coated Aluminium.wpe7.jpg (22258 bytes)

Images: Six blue moons, six red hummingbirds, a yellow thunderbird, a red wolf, a blue killer whale, a red eagle, a blue beaver, a green frog, a green raven, a yellow woman, and a red bear.

¨        Remember was part of the Show Full Moon l New Moon 2001.  Remember is recollection based—it’s reflective of family bonds and childhood memories. Remember exemplifies on each of the three main panels the personality traits of my mother, my maternal grandmother, and myself.  My Grandmother is the thunderbird, wolf and killer whale; my mother is the eagle, beaver and frog, and I am the raven, woman and bear.  The materials, colour,wpe8.jpg (26404 bytes) and composition reinforce these individual personalities.

It is an invitation to remember and celebrate Northwest Coast artwork and lifestyle—vibrant, inventive, strong, pure, complex and intriguing.  The first panel obscures the animals in the three panelled sides, and the stainless steel mesh wraps around the palms of the hands cloaking these designs.  In the palm of the hands the hummingbirds symbolize creativity and energy, and the moon reflects serenity and harmony.  The three personalities work in harmony to balance the piece.

 

 

 

5) " Fly " (1WorkForSale0102)

One of a Kind

Dimensions: 7 1/2” x 2’0” x 3’1 1/2”

Materials: Mahogany, Powder coated aluminium & Marble.

Images: Two red eagles, a blue moon, two yellow suns, and four blue hummingbirds (two on each side).

¨        Fly was part of the Show Full Moon l New Moon 2001.  Fly is dedicated to the young talented director/writer, Zoe. It was her fiery, determined, creative personality that was my inspiration for the sculpture.  Its weighted base is the inception of individual creative conceptualizing, reinforced by the internalizing emotional moon and the knowledgeable, egotistical eagle.  The movement of the piece flies up and out as an expression of the creation of what has been imaged in the base, the action of completion of any creative act.  Again, this movement is reflected in the chosen images: the light fiery powerful sun and the energetic, creative, dexterous hummingbird.  The flyer is grounded and dense yet as the flyer gains altitude it portrays the notion that it is uninhibited and weightless. To fly takes determination and strength. 


 

6) "Radiant Raven" (1WorkForSale0102)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 30” x 22” x 36”

Materials: Aluminium, Maple, and Fabric.

Images: A silver Raven.

¨        The stage is set for the beautiful creatures to show themselves.  The Baroque Bear, the Whimsical Wolf, and the Radiant Raven are placed on pedestals with their bright costumes streaming from their magnificent shiny bodies.  The First Nations’ customary richly historic potlatches used to document historical happenings through dramatic performances are merged with the more southern carnival costumes. 

When I conceived these works, the Radiant Raven, Whimsical Wolf and Baroque Bear, I felt the need to have some fun with the Northwest Coast design—to play dress-up.  The carnival is instantaneously full of life, with new ‘rules’ emerging every minute.  This continuous flow of energy is what I wanted to infuse into our often over justified Northwest coast animals.  No mythical stories attached, a free-form interpretation of each of the animals, through layered metal materials poised on painted patterned maple planks.  There are subtle First Nations’ political struggles inferred in each of the pieces—solitude & isolation (the stage setting), superficiality (the naming of the work by the animal it is showing), and ignorance towards the totality of our culture (the performance setting).  Even with these underlying political and personal implications, the Bear, Wolf and Raven are alive now, performing on their own individual stage in front of their backdrop, posing themselves to do their one performance of a lifetime.

 

7) "Whimsical Wolf" (1WorkForSale0102)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 36” x 64” x 8”

Materials: Material: Brass, Maple wood.

Images: One brass wolf.

¨        See the Radiant Raven write-up.

8) "Incorporation" (1WorkForSale0102)

Edition Size: 1st of 10 (edition of 11), including one artist proof: the artist proof have sold to private collectors in San Francisco.

Approx Dim: 30” x 56” x 16”

Materials: Black walnut, Baltic birch, Glass and Metal tacks.

Images: Two killer whales and two suns.

¨        Incorporation stands for the structure of business.  The design and imagery was chosen to reinforce the qualities of a business: the double killer whales are the strength and movement of the business, the two suns are the force and energy needed for a business to thrive, and the rectilinear design creates the structured foundation for which the business will develop and strengthen.


 

"Vereinigung" (Vereinigung) connie12.gif (1043272 bytes)

One of a Kind

Approx Overall Dim: 12' x 12’ x 12'

Materials: Birch Plywood and hardwood dowelings

Images: A bear, a wolf, a raven, four women, a man, and a girl

¨        Vereinigung is majestic, intricate and multi-dimensional, reflecting our surroundings in British Columbia and the Northwest Coast First Nations culture.  It brings together past and present, human and animals, space and body, real and abstract. 

It juxtaposes the concrete and majestic to the fluid and minute, exemplified by the play between positive and negative space.  It reflects the constant, changing and demanding environment.  The freestanding animals are solid and grand, but their positioning brings them to life. 

The unity of past to present is seen in the marriage of the traditional Northwest Coast form to a contemporary material and method.  The birch plywood is cut into the Northwest Coast forms then suspended from a fret system of hardwood dowelings that originate on the solid centre plywood sections.  This balance of past and present can also be seen in the content of the piece.  First Nation people used a family crest.  This family crest usually encompassed the personality of the family.  Today, since we are so separated, this piece represents my personality rather than the entire family.  The Wolf is the hunter.  He gives me the strength and will to overcome barriers that may seem impossible. He is a handsomely fierce creature who deters others from getting in close, but with his own pack he is abundantly loyal.  The Bear is the protector. She can be gentle, loving, patient, relaxed, protective and demanding. She gives me my compassion and the willingness to find balance in complete opposites.  The Raven is the trickster.  She is always being taught lessons, and thus she is a quick learner.  She loves objects, especially shiny ones. She is the thinking behind everything I do.

The harmony between humans and animals is formed by the placement of the human figures inside the large animal figures.  The inside of the bear houses two women; the wolf has a man, a woman and a child; and the raven holds on woman.  The balancing of the human figures to the outside animal structural interpretations enhances this interrelationship of human and animal.

What’s in the name?  Vereinigung means unification in German.  The word reflects the unity and respect the First Nations had for the life around us.  It also represents my absence of my native tongue, due to the neglect of our languages in the schooling system, and my background in the languages of German and French.


WORKS SOLD:

1) "Hetux" (1WorkSold0102)

Owner: Vancouver International Airport

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 21' x 17’ x 15'

Materials: Baltic birch, and Blue Powder Coated Aluminium.

Images: A thunderbird with lightening snakes, two wolves, a wren, two salmon, two moons, two hummingbirds, and a sun.

¨        The Thunderbird is the keeper of the sky.  When he opens his eyes, the sun shines.  When he ruffles his feathers, the wind blows.  When he waves his great wings, lightning flashes, and when his wings slap together, thunder sounds.  This Thunderbird is my grandmother: “Hetux” (which means daughter in Nuu-chah-nulth).

In my lifetime my grandmother has been my mentor.  She is well respected.  She has wholeheartedly taken care of her family.  Her determination, creativity and generosity have always set a precedent for me to follow.  For these reasons, I have moulded this thunderbird from the personality of my grandmother.  And have respectfully named it after her: “Hetux”.

The conception of Hetux began from the traditional historic First Nations means of identifying families and lineage.  The images in totem poles, button blankets and family crests carried the stories and lineage of our families.  I have taken this concept and applied it to the individual.  I see emerging from their personality these primary animals, plants and forces (the sun, moon, wind, etc.).  I have completed a number of compositional sketches of individuals, before I began conceptualizing for Hetux.  The dominating image in the piece reflects the dominance of the animal, plant, or force in the individual.

The Thunderbird, together with all the other creatures, is my grandmother.  The Thunderbird’s strength and boundless creative energy is dominant.  The wolves (intensity and determination) on either side of the body are her stature.  The male and female salmon on the belly reflect her generosity and prosperity.  The hummingbird (joy and energy) and moon (intuition and perceptiveness) on the wing are her actions and interpretations.  The sun (logic and power) on the tail is her guidance.  The small wren (magic and fortuity) on the neck is ever present.

The materials are stained Baltic birch and powder coated aluminium.  The wood and metal combined soft to hard, this too is my grandmother.  The colours are blue, red and yellow.  This is the primary colour scheme, from which all other colours emerge.  This is also reflective of my grandmother.

Our First Nations’ names are an integral part of the person’s being.  They are handed down from mother to daughter and father to son.  Once handed down they are not used until the person has passed on.  My sculpture that I have created is intended to reflect the essence of my grandmother, which is held within her name: “Hetux”.


 

2) "Bear Chair" (1WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Ontario Collector, sold by the Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 48” x 32” x 36”

Materials: Stainless steel, Baltic birch and Wool fabric.

Images: A Bear.

¨        The Wolf Table and The Bear Chair, completed in 1995, were my first functional sculpture pieces—they integrate traditional forms and meanings with contemporary materials, western art theory and design.  The Wolf Table, along with the Bear Chair, were my first explorations with the concept of ‘pulling apart’ Northwest Coast forms into separated layers.   I wanted to see the forms in the same depth that I saw them in the older pieces of carved Northwest Coast works.   Looking at the front view of the chair, the bear’s head is in the backrest, with a raven in his forehead.  The chair’s form creates the bear’s body, with the claws and a woman’s face in the lower section.

 

3) "Baroque Bear" (1WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Vancouver Collector

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 48” x 36” x 84”

Materials: Copper, Maple Wood and Wool Fabric.

Images: A Copper Bear.

¨        See the Radiant Raven write-up.

4) "Why?" (1WorkSold0102)

Owner: Indian Arts Centre (Ottawa, Ontario)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 5’0” x 6’4” x 91/2”

Materials: Paper, card, Galvanized wire & mesh, Maple, Spectra thread, Clay & Acrylic

Images: Paper collaged landscape, a silver raven, a brass wolf, a copper bear, seven coppers, and seven braids

¨        “Why?” was part of the Show Full Moon l New Moon 2001.  The purpose of Why? is to intrigue your mind and have you wondering why!  Wire ovoid shapes cage landscape background, trees, and mountains, wire women hold up Northwest Coast mesh shapes, and strings suspend animal shapes.  The loose strings are gathered at the bottom and braided, tiny coppers line the top, and all grows from a red and black background.  The interpretation is for the viewer to decide; I consider it one of my most complex pieces, with meaning and interpretation never ending

"Incorporation" (1WorkForSale0102)

Owner: Private San Francisco Collector, sold by the Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver)

Artist Proof

¨        See write-up in Works For Sale


 

"Curiosity" (1WorkForSale0102)

Owner (Artist Proof): Private Seattle Collector, sold by the Stonington Gallery (Seattle)

Owner (2nd of Series of 5): Private Vancouver Collector

¨        See write-up in Works For Sale

5) "Golden Eagle Table" (1WorkSold0102)

Owner: Corporate Collector: Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Association

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 54” x 30” x 16”

Materials: Tiger wood, Glass, Baltic birch, and Brass.

Images: Split Eagle with the sun.

¨        The Golden Eagle Table was commissioned by SIGA, and was intended for their casino, Golden Eagle Casino.  It seemed appropriate for a prospering casino to merge the sun for strength with the knowledgeable eagle.  The form of a diamond and the wings to reflect the movement upwards was used to strengthen this concept of prosperity and wealth.

6) "Crossroads" (1WorkSold0102)

Owner: Corporate Collector: Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Association

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 52” x 30” x 16”

Materials: Baltic birch, mahogany, copper and glass.

Images: A raven, an eagle, and two hummingbirds.

¨        Crossroads was built to portray friendship.  The eagle and the raven are held in juxtaposition to create a tension between personalities, but stabilized in the geometric rectangular form.  The two hummingbirds are added as the energy and the creative drive needed to maintain a friendship.  This inference of intersection is carried out throughout the design: the main mahogany supports crossing; the intersecting plates of images; the mixing of materials; and the opposing positioning of the imagery.

7) "Monica’s Wedding Dress" (1WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Collector

One of a Kind

Materials: Gold raw Silk, Gold Silk mesh, and White Raw Silk.

Images: An eagle, a dear, two frogs, a loon, a hummingbird, two fireweed plants, seven coppers, two killer whales, and a thunderbird with the moon.

¨        The wedding dress belongs to my sister, who was married August 1997.  The design is a union of the historic and the new.  The new is my sister’s portrait (the deer, the eagle, and the killer whale) and the historic is the presence of my Grandmothers’ (the thunderbird and whale from my mother’s side, and the frogs and the fireweed from the paternal side).  I also included a high note, the hummingbird, and the base note, the loon.  The coppers represent wealth and prosperity.  There is one large one on the centre back of the train, and three on either side of the front of the train.


 

8) "A Marriage" (1WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Corporate Collector (Vancouver)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 36” x 54”x 1”

Materials: White Silk Mesh, Gold Silk Mesh, White Raw Silk, Acetate and Acrylic.

Images: An eagle, two killer whales, a deer, an osprey, and a big horn sheep.

¨        “A Marriage” was completed for my Sister Monica’s wedding.  It is a portrait of her and her husband, Allan.  The Deer, the Killer Whale, and the Eagle represent her, with Allan being the Killer Whale, the Big Horned Sheep, and the Osprey.

9) "Quest For Knowledge" (1WorkSold0102)

Owner: Corporate Collector: North Island College (Port Alberni)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 5' x 3’ x 9”

Materials: Maple, Baltic birch, Cedar, Brass, and Aluminium.

Images: A bear, an eagle, a sun, a moon, and a mountain.

¨        Quest for Knowledge reflects the act of learning and obtaining information.  The world (the semicircle), contains the knowledgeable, undeterred eagle and the powerful, intuitive bear poised in an upward gazing stance, with their centre axis/ foundation created by the brass sun, the aluminium moon and the cedar mountain.  The work is capturing through the personality traits of these objects the act of the quest for knowledge.  In a composed personality, the eagle forms the front man, the part of the personality that will go seek out an idea and share it with anyone who will listen, the bear is mass that is the self esteem and the quite researcher that provides all the data and material to formulate well thought out ideas and concepts, the foundation of the symbolic mountain creates the strong platform in which to springboard off of, and the dual forces of the sun and moon provide the energy and a renewed changing environment.  The piece is hung in the front entrance of the College.

1) "The Inventor" (2WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Corporate Collector (Vancouver)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 36” x 48” x 6”

Materials: Paper, card & acrylic.

Images: A green and brown cedar tree, a silver moon, a gold sun, a red hummingbird, a blue bear, and a green frog.

¨        A local businessman commissioned “The Inventor”.  He came to me requesting a work for a Hong Kong client for Chinese New Year.  He described his creative client to me, and I immediately envisioned this piece and sketched it for him.  I called it, “The Inventor”.

“The Inventor” envelops the concept of creation.  All the figures have their own depth, but each of the figures are set at different levels based on their place in the creative act. The cedar tree and hummingbird are on the upper layer where the actual objects are formed, the bear on the next layer provides the ground and strength, and the moon, sun, and frog are on the lower layer where creative ideas grow and are renewed.


 

2) "Thunderbird Screens" (2WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Collector (Port Alberni)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 4' x 8’ x 1”

Materials: Acrylic and Stainless steel mesh.

 

3) "Kathy" (2WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Collector (Seattle)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 18” x 12” x 30”

Materials: Paper, card & acrylic

Images:

¨        “Kathy” was completed for the Emily Carr Aboriginal 1998 Alumni Show, “Here and Now, First Peoples Perspectives”. Kathy is my younger sister and this is her portrait.  The composition (including thin tissue and heavier paper mounted on card, contrasting geometric forms, and different coloration on either side) captures the intricacy of Kathy’s personality.  The animals and colours I have chosen are also indicators of her personality.  The thunderbird is the strong sense of right and wrong, the dolphin is the water thinker and intuitive strengths, the hummingbirds are the creative energy, the moose is the embracing of passive strength, and the moon the embodiment of feminine traits.  The juxtaposed geometric shapes reflect the creative structured foundation in which her personality stems from.

4) "Colin" (2WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Collector—fundraiser for YVR

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 42” x 30”

Materials: Acrylic on Cotton Paper

Images: A gold thunderbird, a silver wolf, a copper lynx, a silver sea otter, a silver moon and the copper land

¨        The compositions represent my interpretation of Colin’s personality.  The strong moralistic thunderbird in active flight is the focal point; the quick, agile lynx is next with the hunting strength of the unique white wolf holding the two together.  In the background and to the side are the intuitive moon and the facilitating river otter; these creatures are not as forthright in his personality.  This is an overview of the picture; the images composition, colour, and stance are also reflective of his personality.

5) "Wolf Table" (2WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Collector (Port Alberni)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 50” x 26” x 16”

Materials: Baltic birch, stainless steel and glass

Images: A wolf

¨        Looking straight down on the table, you can see the wolf is wrapped around himself, like he is chasing his tail.  Inside the wolf is a woman’s face and hands.  This work was conceived in the same manner as the Bear Chair and at the same time.


 

6) "Steelhead Society Award" (2WorkSold0102)

Owner: Award winner—donated

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 5” x 5” x 12”

Materials: Copper and Cherry wood

Images: A sun, a pair of hands, and six salmon

¨        The Steelhead Society approached me with their new award category: First Nations Leadership in Conservation.  They are a group of scientists/biologists that will go into an area that has been damaged and use the machinery of the different large companies to restore and refurbish the countryside.  The award has twelve rings (the river) poised angularly on a column (the mountain).  The rings contain three sets of salmon, seen as you look down on the piece.  The hands are holding/guarding the mountain under the soaring sun.

7) "Celebrating A Special Union I" (2WorkSold0102)

Owner: Private Collector (Port Alberni)

One of a Kind

Approx Dim: 50” x 26” x 16”

Materials: Red raw silk and blue nylon mesh

Images: Two salmon and the moon

¨        Celebrating a Special Union I uses images that reflect the act of a couple coming together.  The female and male salmon are caressed in the moons embrace—a safe place to explore each other’s intimate details.  It is the type of emerging love that lasts forever.


SHOWS TO COME:

The shows are in the order I am working.  This is not always constant though, but I would like to see Traditional Braids completed first.  It has been in conception for over three years and has influenced my work to date.  Don’t touch is reflective of the displacement of our society, but again I believe through experimentation of different perspectives and determination to truly express ourselves we will be able to accurately experience our pure sense of our culture.  What is it? is more of an individual exploration of ‘artist’, and the strengths and weaknesses with that categorization.

 “Traditional Braids”

The question of media’s influence on people’s perception of each other is insurmountable.  We can recognize that documented history is in fact the beginning of this skewed perception of reality, where the perception of what is being documented of the happenings is no doubt going to favour the side that is documenting the event.  These days, the realization of the importance of communication has been pushed to its limits, with visual documentation being used not only for political favour, but also monetarily driven.  History moved to Hollywood and has subsequently fragmented not only in film, but television, magazines, radio, music, papers, and the numerous numbers of well placed advertisements scattering our visual landscapes.

“Traditional Braids” is founded in using this marketing to create new history, ‘a new Hollywood’.  The show is about what history missed, a telling of the history with contemporary materials and content, an anthropological look at the First Nations of the Northwest Coast.  It is a platform in which answers to: what do you think their community hierarchy was? Why do you think there art was formed in this way? And what do you think the family unit interaction was?

In most cases, the answers will not be a literal interpretation.  I hope by being as pure to my natural intuitive sense, I will be able to achieve a reverse logic to justify what I believe to be our Northwest Coast historical past.  This effort to break away from the western cultural outlook of what we were has been and will continue to be a passion of mine.  It will be the first time I express it visually.

The show will ideally be a series of spaces, or if space constraints exist it will be a few smaller dissected spaces within a larger space.  The show will include photo images and text, fashion, regalia, designed home elements, and computer animation.  There will be photo/text hanging on the walls: some images compiled to look like a page of a history book; some just larger ‘historical’ looking images; and some contemporary interpretations of the ‘past’.  In the different areas there will be dominated by a particular discipline: fashion; design; cultural garments; and media.  This is not for certain, the juxtaposition of the different disciplines might be better categories in a faux historical line, in which case some of each of the disciplines would be held in each area.

The computer animation is half way completed.  I continue to sketch and refine the remainder of the show, I will begin building and compiling the work as soon as I work out a happy with the sketches.  There are some monetary constraints, so if you know someone who would like to invest in some way I would appreciate any information.


 “Don’t Touch”

Art is an integral part of Culture.  In western categorization, art acts as a documentation of the temperament of the time or a reflection of the social state of the society.  Historically, it moved from realism into purely abstract expressions. 

In contrast, the Northwest Coast artwork was so deeply interjected into the social, spiritual and philosophical ways of living that it reached this abstract expressive form early on, in relative time to the Western European artwork.  The magnitude of interlacing art into all the levels of life was so great that it is often now labelled as our culture.  But doing this, scholars have encased the depth of understanding of the work by using it as a window to look through to see how we lived. The obstacle that this creates is the actual depth and meaning of the work is lost.

“Don’t touch” explores and questions the loss of content and depth of understanding in this form of art.  Even by labelling these beings as art the container is built.

On another level, the works that were so interlaced in our society have been removed and placed into containers, labelled “don’t touch”.  The potential for us to explore the true meaning of the works through our innate understanding passed on ‘through our blood’ is lost.  They are like teaching toys for children, the more interaction we as First Nations have with the works the clearer the true content becomes. 

The history written about these works, have been researched and condensed into a point of view that for the most part is not First Nations.  It is presented in a structured western point of view, to which I myself do not escape.  With my work I follow my instincts as much a possible in order to recapture the knowledge of my ancestors.

The show is not totally clear to me yet, but I do have a visual concept of what the show will look like.  The works in “don’t touch” are encased in glass in the shape of building blocks.  They are stacked and scattered throughout an enclosed room.  In each of these blocks is a part of a story/artwork/life/essence.

“What is it?”

The meaning of Artwork evolves within each individual.  The perspective of the artist or points of origin of thought in which the works emerged are only that, a beginning of the meaning of the work.  It is the connection between the participant and the work in which the work gains its life, and a deeper understanding is achieved.  This question of content and the meaning of art itself came into question in the European history of art on the on slot of the invention of the camera.  

Simply, European fine artist intent was to record history.  The artist began to question the intent or content of their work, looking for something outside of realism.  We then began to see the emergence of abstract works (i.e. surrealism, dadaism, impressionism, etc.), where the imagery of the work is only a portion of the content or meaning of the work.  The works began to be based on many other factors including emotional, cultural, and esoteric began to be included in the definition of Fine Art. 

As a First Nation’s artist our Northwest Coast artwork started by tying a whole set of realistic, emotional, and abstract content into the final piece.  Because this language was developed early on, people have come to assign this complex system of understanding into a superficial means of looking only for the animals, myth, and the past cultural tradition it is linked to.

“What is it?” stands for all the phrases, including: “What does this represent”, “What animal is this”, and “Is this based on a past myth”.  The show is to honour the past artist, by recapturing this sense of magnificent rich content, from a contemporary point of view.  I would like to understand the historical path in which the Northwest Coast Artwork was heading and developing to, and in as free as I can immerse myself into the past to look with untarnished eyes, these pieces will gain their life.  I see myself as only a vehicle in which the past knowledge can be passed on.

The works will be carved in a style that skews the interlinking levels of the objects being represented.  Colour will also be a factor in each of the works, and add to the emotional intent of each of the works.  I will use local material, including red and yellow cedar, abalone shells, oyster shells and clamshells, cedar bark, swamp grass, copper, gold and silver.

email connie conniewattslivingdesign@gmail.com

 


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