Raven’s Escape: the instant between Light and Dark

Collaboration with Courtney Lipson. Cedar, Pigments, Glass Seed Beads.

Many Northwest Coast tribes’ mythologies hold that Raven, who created the world, and all that is in the world, needed light so his creation could be seen and admired. He heard of an Indian Chief who had a source of light. Raven flew to the Chief’s Longhouse and observed that each morning the Chief’s daughter went to a nearby river for drinking water. As she put her cup into the river, Raven transformed into a hemlock needle, dropped into the river and flowed into her cup. She drank the water and the needle and became pregnant. She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, the Chief’s grandson. When her child turned two, the Chief gave a Potlatch to name his grandson. In the middle of the speeches the young boy, threw a humiliating temper tantrum. The Chief embarrassed by this outburst asked the boy what would keep him quiet. The child innocently pointed to a beautifully carved bentwood chest. The Chief agreed the boy could look at it, even touch it, but not open it. With the boy now pacified, the speeches resumed until all of a sudden brilliant rays of light came forth from the box. The boy had lifted the lid of the box, transformed back into his Raven form, flew into the box where he discovered the Sun which he grabbed with his beak, the moon which he grabbed with one claw and a pile of glistening stars which he scooped up with his other claw. With the patiently awaited possession of the stolen light, raven flew up through the smoke hole. The years of accumulated ash turned his white feathers a brilliant, shiny black. He flew up into the darkness and tossed the sun out of his beak and opened his claws releasing the moon and stars into their orbit. Now the world had light and Raven could admire his handiwork. This beautiful box is the first collaboration between Scott and Courtney, both Stonington artists. Courtney meticulously placed the beads into the design after Scott carved the box and before he painted it. Scott steam-bent the box.