The Extended Family
EXHIBITION:Barry Herem: Wood. Glass. Paper. Steel.
This beautiful new corten steel is based on a detail from Barry Herem’s print, “Orca Tribe”.
“These are the titles for my two new groupings of killer whales. The lead bull in The Family grouping is the dominant image and the only one with teeth. These indicate that in Northwest Coast art and traditional culture all animals are regarded as human beings cloaked in animal “robes”. It’s the central idea behind the universal notion of transformation and fully applies to traditional Northwest Coast cultures. Thus it is that we are all beings in transition – animals and people – capable at will of transformation between one and the other. It is a notion that animates the cosmos. This same lead orca also reveals a profile human-like face in the body which is designed to represent his ancestor, the soul of a grandfather or grandmother, which also touches on the ever present and guiding notion of the role of ancestors in traditional Northwest Coast life. All of the figures taken together symbolize the central role of family, both immediate and extended, in thriving societies. Animals, then are a reflection, a symbol, of the cosmic order.
The second group, Extended Family, is led by what the artist regards as a large female arced to the left as she appears to dive, followed by young and adolescent figures in a complex interplay of both the figures themselves – in both related groups – and of the evocative stylizations of body parts and movement using the design elements of Formline art throughout. It is this style – and just a few of the many ways in which it can be done (including the wide use of hatching lines) – that mark these figures as part of a unique art tradition better known, perhaps, as Northwest Coast Indian or Indian-style art. Overlapping them in an attempt to represent group movement and interaction is a modern development in an art form that is at least two thousand years old.”