Exploring Totem Series | 2013 | Ranger Station Art Gallery | Harrison Hot Springs, Canada
This series began in the summer of 2012 and has grown into a body of hundreds of digitally manipulated photographs. During my artist residency in New York that particular summer, I began to add various man-made elements to my paintings/drawings, turning them upside down and on their sides to add to and distort the narrative aspect of my abstract, nature influenced work. I moved to Harrison Hot Springs for the year long tenure as Artist in Residence at the former outpost Ranger Station in September of that year and began instinctively taking hundreds of photographs as a way of documenting my new surroundings. While exploring the area and formatting the photographs taken, I started to see the parallel between what I was doing in my paintings and what was possible with photography. I began rotating, flipping and mirroring the photographs as a way to take the immediately recognizable landscape, shift perspective and potentially build iconic monuments stemming from but not held in reality.
By calling them Totems I mean to give respect to the First Nations people who reverently build Totem poles to commemorate their ancestry, history, land, kinship and allegory of clans. The word itself, although tied originally to the Ojibwe people (doo-dem)as far back as the late 1700s, is most often associated with the west coast tradition of building and displaying these poles. It is both physically and ideologically what I am referencing -the reverence and connectivity to nature. These are, in a sense, my own way to express a deep love of my surroundings coupled with a concern for its welfare.
The photographs used have been taken in the Fraser Valley region (Chehalis, Seabird, Cheam and Papkum First Nations) of British Columbia with new pieces being added from Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands.