For the past few years, Bard on the Beach has worked with Coast Salish Initiatives Consultant Cory Douglas to develop meaningful ways to further our commitment to Reconciliation, learn about our Host Nations history and culture, and create an artistic project that would be meaningful to Bard, its constituents, and the creators. Bard wanted to continue to explore the power of art to inspire dialogue, understanding and change.
Cory introduced us to extraordinary visual artists from the three Host Nations. Chase Gray (Musqueam), Ocean Hyland (Tsleil-Waututh), and Aaron Nelson-Moody (Squamish) worked collaboratively on the design, titled To Learn. The artists created a piece that draws on a specific cultural identifier, the spindle whorl inspired by classic Coast Salish design.
Taking the form of a spindle whorl, a disc traditionally used in the spinning of fibre, To Learn’s round shape evokes the connection of all beings. Although used in many world cultures, Coast Salish artists advanced the carving of spindle whorls as contemporary fine art pieces. Both the form and the function of the spindle whorl reclaims traditional practices and reflects the history of storytelling central to the culture of Coast Salish peoples, as well as evoking the weaving together that this collaboration represents.
If you look closely at the design, you will see a central human figure, the story teller, flanked by a pair of Ravens. The Raven is a traditional teacher whose lessons can be powerful and useful, or hard-earned by humankind, as well as a human face in each wing, who also represent the tradition of storytelling.
As a company that both produces theatre and has a strong commitment to reconciliation and inclusion, Bard is thrilled to share this work—inspired by the telling of stories—with you. We would love to hear your thoughts about what this image means to you.
Share with us at [email protected].
This project was overseen by Bard’s Coast Salish Initiatives Consultant Cory Douglas. Cory was born and raised in Coast Salish Territory— ‘Vancouver’—and brings more than 25 years of local experience in art and architectural design to the project. He is a Squamish Nation member with Haida and Tsimshian ancestry. Cory began his business as a graphic artist and continues to redefine himself as he merges his academic architectural training with his innate creativity. Cory is connected to the Squamish Nation through his parents and has been studying traditional Haida form and Formline and Coast Salish design. Cory’s intention is to communicate the cultural history of Canada while simultaneously working to decolonize development and design strategies through all his work.
See more of his work on Instagram @modernformline
Chase Gray is a trans-Indigiqueer or 2 Spirit xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and Tsimshian artist. Born in Nanaimo, he moved to the mainland, where he still resides, as a child. At age 12, he was introduced to mask-dancing and has danced along with the Git Hayetsk Dancers: “The People of the Copper Shield”, who have greatly influenced his art. In 2021, Chase revived his lifelong dream of drawing—Formline drawing in particular. He took inspiration from the Indigenous characters and stories of his childhood and blended them with mainstream and pop culture figures and concepts. Chase believes people from every culture can understand and appreciate Indigenous artwork in some way, and hopes his work captivates a wide audience.
See more of his art at gaysalishart.com
Ocean Hyland is an artist who works in both painting and digital design. Ocean currently lives in Qualicum Bay on Vancouver Island. As a young woman, Ocean received the ancestral name ts;simtelot which was shared with her by her Mother. This name has been passed down through her family on her Cheam side. On her matrilineal side she is Tsleil Waututh, Squamish, Cheam, Hawaiian, and Chinese. Through her father she is Scottish and Irish. As well as her art practices, she enjoys participating in language revitalization of Coast Salish languages The richness and diversity of her cultural heritage is what inspires Ocean in her many art practices. Ocean has studied at both Native Education College specializing in Northwest Coast jewelry arts, and at Simon Fraser University focusing on the sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim, building up her proficiency in one of her mother tongues. She has apprenticed with artists Zachary George and Aaron Nelson Moody.
See more of her art on Instagram @dropletfromthesalishsea
Aaron “Splash” Nelson-Moody
Carver Aaron Nelson-Moody, or “Splash”, lives and works in the Capilano Village on the North Shore of Vancouver. While Aaron is his English name, he also has his Squamish Nation name, Tawx’sin Yexwulla, which translates as: Splashing Eagle, so most people know him simply as “Splash”. He also carries the name, Poolxtun, from his adopted father Gerry Oleman, which he translates as, ‘the spreading ripples from a splash of water.’ His current artistic focus is on jewelry engraving and repousse, but he still carves larger houseposts and panels on commission. He has worked with community groups and students in several local schools, as well as sharing his knowledge in Japan and Scotland. He is currently working at Langara College teaching Indigenous woodcarving as part of the Fine Arts program.
See more of his work on Instagram @aaronnelsonmoody