EXHIBITION:Barry Herem: Wood. Glass. Paper. Steel.
Raven is the mythological culture-hero/trickster of the Northwest Coast, the same who both creates and destroys, but whose destructions, or acts of will, often involuntarily spawn benefits and amusements for mankind (more like a Greek demi-god than a Hebrew Absolute). Take, for instance, his most famous deed of all: the theft of the sun which is the theme of this limited-edition serigraph print. This universally held myth of the Northwest Coast tells that in the beginning the world was without light, steeped in a primordial darkness. The sun it seems was kept in a Box of Daylight held in the house of First Grandfather and his Granddaughter. Raven, in the vigor of his youth, and tired of darkness (as well as of the pre-conscious world it implies) decided to steal the Light from within this box, no doubt for the visual advantages it would provide him. In the most dynamic of his acts then, he decided to transform himself into a spruce needle which was accidentally swallowed by Granddaughter. This accomplished, he grew with supernatural speed to birth as a subversively charming human child. Soon with the shrewd intention of certain betrayal (and divine play) he fussed so affectingly that his adoring elder gave in to his interest in the, yes, Box of Daylight. Instantaneously the human child re-transfigured himself into corvus the canny bird, tore the sun from its container and vaulted into the sky. It is the Northwest Coast’s version of both the myth of Prometheus and the Big Bang theory. The rest is history.
In this serigraph with abalone inlay, Raven stands before a vast and muted image of himself on the sides of the Box of Daylight. He is no longer rash or foolish as in his youth, but grown regal and wise with time, in fact he seems to owe something to the monumental friezes of Mesopotamia as well as to the beautiful structure of Northwest Coast formline art. Within his body is his previous form as a half-human boy, half-bird figure. In his front hands half transformed into the feathering of wings, is the figure of the sun; his feet are drawn up beneath in the formation of talons while his head still retains characteristics of his human from with a human-like nose but with down-turned mouth becoming a beak. The moon and stars which he chipped from the sun are symbolized in the small ellipses beneath his interior jaw and in the iridescent abalone inlay along the rim of his cape. The small bands of gold formline design are sometimes creatures, sometimes not – the decorative filigree of imperium.