Oceans of Wealth - Unframed 17x22
Artist: Andy Everson
My ancestry is mixed and I make no effort to neither hide nor deny it--it is part of who I am. My genetic makeup largely comes from England, from Norway, from the Pentlatch and from the Kwaguł and the ‘Na̱mg̱is of the Kwakwaka’wakw. Some of my ancestors fought in the War of the Roses, the War of Independence and the American Civil War. Some were literally Kings and Queens of England, while many many more were peasants trying to find a way to survive. Many were nobility amongst our people here and some were even slaves. I have a very rich history and as I think back in time, my mind becomes lost in these oceans of wealth.
When the first Europeans set foot on these territories, they were confronted with a rich and complex economic system centered on the potlatch. Interest-bearing loans were a regular and frequent activity amongst my ancestors. Shield-like items--called “t̕łaḵwa”--made from native copper were used to build up wealth. The “copper” was composed of three main parts: the “u’gwa̱mi” (upper part or face), the ”ga’lasi” (crosspiece, backbone or T) and the “uxsti” (lower sides or ribs). When a chief wished to insult his rivals, he would break a corner off his copper and present the broken segment to his enemy. The onus would be on the rival to return a piece of equal or greater value in order to save face. Coppers used in many quarrels would only have the T-shaped backbone remaining to represent its role in the oceans of wealth.
About The Artist
Andy Everson was born in Comox B.C. in 1972 and named Nagedzi after his grandfather, Chief Andy Frank. His cultural interests lay with both his Comox and Kwakwaka'wakw ancestries and are expressed through dancing, singing, and even the pursuit of a Master's degree in anthropology. Andy feels that my artwork stands on par with these other accomplishments.
Although he began drawing Northwest Coast art at an early age, his 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 m Kwakiutl relatives in creating bold and unique representations that remain rooted in the age-old traditions of his ancestors.