Framed Art Card - Masi'kw (Sea Urchin)
I recently had the opportunity to travel across the Island to Tofino with my family. I delighted in watching the kids scamper over the rocks to look at the vibrant sea life of the intertidal zone. Bright colours were a treat to our eyes as we recognized the bountiful and delicate gift that the ocean provides for us.
One such creature of the ocean is the red sea urchin, or Ma̱si'ḵw (muh-SEEKW). A favourite food of sea otters, it is also loved by many food aficionados. My ancestors would often use yew wood prongs to harvest this spiny creature whose insides yield a succulent and rich treasure for the palate.
The vast majority of my prints that I’ve released over the years have been titled in English. I’ve done this consciously because I wanted to reach a broad audience and feel that English--as my first language--allows me to name a piece with as much delicacy as possible. Recently I’ve started a blog--kwakwala.com--that strives to do my small part in preserving the language of my ancestors. With only about 200 Kwak̕wala speakers remaining, I have come to realize that language preservation will take a lot of work and personal sacrifice.
In naming this piece, I strove to convey a sense of unfamiliarity that mirrors the non-traditional design of the image. I wanted to prod the viewer to ask, “what is it?” and for them to not know immediately what it is by the title. My intention was to honour this traditional spiny, yet delicate, food source with its traditional Kwak̕wala title.
(9" x 12")