Framed Art Card - Saltwater Splendour (12" x 9")
Artist: Andy Everson
Deep under the ocean is a world we know very little about. There are fish and invertebrates that have yet to be seen by humans. There are things that are dark and scary and there are things that are simply beautiful. A panoply of colours are available for those fortunate enough to explore the depths. Whether you visit a coral reef or some pristine water off Vancouver Island, you are bound to encounter a saltwater splendour.
Tł̓a’xwsam or Yelloweye Rockfish, are commonly called “Pacific Red Snapper” in these waters. They certainly add colour and a little character to the underwater realm. They are a slow-growing and long-living species of fish that live up to 120 years of age and often live amongst the same rockpile their entire lives. They can grow up to a metre in length and weigh almost 50 pounds.
When a yelloweye rockfish is caught in deep water, the gas in its swim bladder quickly expands and forces the stomach to come out of its mouth and its eyes to protrude from its sockets. Many Kwakwaka’wakw believe that there is an inherent connection to the xwixwi dance and these traits of the “red snapper.” The xwixwi dancer wears a mask with a lolling tongue–representing its stomach–and protruding eyes. They shake scallop shell rattles, mimicking the violent thrashing of the rockfish’s tail. The xwixwi dance is especially important to me and my community in Comox as the dance originated amongst our people and was passed north as a marriage right to a number of different Kwakwaka’wakw families.
About The Artist
Andy Everson was born in Comox, BC in 1972 and named Na̱gedzi after his grandfather, the late Chief Andy Frank of the K’ómoks First Nation. Andy has also had the honour of being seated with the ‘Na̱mg̱is T̓sit̓sa̱ł'walag̱a̱me' name of Ḵ̓wa̱mxa̱laga̱lis I'nis. Influenced heavily by his grandmother, he has always been driven to uphold the traditions of both the K’ómoks and Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw First Nations. In this regard, Andy has pursued avenues where he can sing traditional songs and perform ceremonial dances at potlatches and in a number of different dance groups, most notably the Le-La-La Dancers, the Gwa'wina Dancers and the K’umugwe Dancers.
Pursuing other areas of traditional culture has also led Andy to complete a Master’s degree in anthropology. Because the K’ómoks First Nation lies on the border between the larger Salish and Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw realms, his thesis focused on notions and expressions of contemporary Comox identity. His work in anthropology provided him with a background in linguistics which subsequently inspired him to create a company, Copper Canoe, Inc, that specialized in the creation of Aboriginal language media.
Andy feels that his artwork stands on par with these other accomplishments. Although he began drawing Northwest Coast art at an early age, Andy's first serious attempt wasn’t until 1990 when he started designing and painting chilkat-style blankets for use in potlatch dancing. From these early self-taught lessons, he has tried to follow in the footsteps of his Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw relatives in creating bold and unique representations that remain rooted in the age-old traditions of his ancestors. The ability to create and print most of his own work has allowed Andy to explore and express his ancestral artwork in a number of contemporary ways.