Skana – 1994
EXHIBITION:Barry Herem: Wood. Glass. Paper. Steel.
Skana is the native Canadian Haida word for ‘killer whale’ and as such represents a being of many dimensions. According to native myths of the Northwest Coast of North America, skana live beneath the sea in houses and villages where they assume the shape of killer whale people. As such they can also transform themselves and walk on land among people, mingling in their lives.
One story tells of a hunter whose prowess in hunting sea-lions aroused the jealousy of his brothers-in-law, all except the youngest. The jealous in-laws abandoned the hunter, taking with them his canoe and leaving him both stranded and wounded. He was taken by a seagull to the house of the Chief of the Sea Lions whose son was also wounded and whom the hunter cured. As reward the grateful chief gave the hunter a sea-lion skin canoe in which to return home. After returning the hunter carved two killer whales out of yellow cedar and sent them to destroy his fraternal in-laws. After this they were instructed to help all men and never harm them.