Haida Totem Argillite Bracelet
EXHIBITION:A Generation Rises
Becky Blanchard’s Staff Picks:
With this bracelet, Jay Simeon has accomplished the impossible; capturing the complexity, beauty, and elegance of a magnificent Haida Totem Pole in miniature. Simeon spent a year and a half carving this bracelet, raising the bar again for what a great Haida artist can create from the beautiful black shale known as argillite. We have come to expect the unexpected from Jay, however the first time we held this bracelet in his studio we wept.
I love Jay’s commitment, focus and vision and the quietness with which he does things. It is so delightful to see this in a young artist because you know the culture and its beautiful art will continue to thrive and grow. Excellence is rare, yet is so evident and inspiring when you experience it. This bracelet represents all of the qualities that must come together to create what the great Haida artist Bill Reid called the “well made object”.
Jay Simeon has distilled the mythical imagery of a grand Haida totem pole and miniaturized it to the confines of a delicate, intricately carved argillite bracelet. A year and a half in the making, Simeon’s bangle is flawlessly executed, exquisitely designed and reminiscent of the work of the old Haida masters.
The imagery on this bracelet begins with an Eagle who shares a tongue with a Frog, and has two Frogs emerging out of his ears. Eagle holds Salmon in his talons. Killerwhale shares a tongue with Nansimgit’s wife, with Nansimgit holding onto his tail fin trying to retrieve his wife. Mouse Woman–who advised Nansimgit on how to go about retrieving his wife from Gunar and the undersea world–is next. The Chief of the undersea world holds a copper with three Deep Sea Frogs. Grizzly Bear holds onto two cubs with a Watchman between his ears–and the Watchman even bears his own minute wristwatch.