lessLIE : cultural conFUSION

The title of this exhibition, cultural conFUSION, is ambiguous; it can be interpreted as representing the perspective of a contemporary Coast Salish artist who has experienced cultural confusion due to colonialism and assimilation. It can simultaneously interpreted as the perspective of a contemporary Coast Salish artist who has not succumbed to a stubborn, static sense of 'tradition' and who views cultural fusion, acculturation, and cultural change as a means of cultural empowerment. Therefore, the exhibition can be interpreted as representing a dialectical tension between both cultural realities.

 Some of the influences which reflect cultural conFUSION in this solo exhibition include the work of the great contemporary Haida artist, Robert Davidson (I am a contemporary Coast Salish artist attempting to accept influences from northern Northwest Coast art forms without succumbing to a Haida-centric perspective on Northwest Coast art), the ancient cuneiform, crescent and circle writing system of ancient Mesopotamia,

 I am a contemporary Coast Salish artUS
 attempting to mediate
 between orality and literacy

 In the spirit of Wayne Subtle
 I am a contemporary Coast Salish artUS
 attempting to write
 a cuneiform-line
 attempting to
 weave with words
 a new Salish TEXTile

 I am attempting to mediate
 between Modernity
 and traditional
 Coast Salish culture

 Some of the other influences in this solo exhibition include influences from contemporary Canadian visual culture. These influences include literacy, which is a vital part of contemporary Canadian culture. My utilization of literacy as a contemporary Coast Salish artist is an attempt to reflect the perspective that, although orality is vital to traditional Coast Salish culture, literacy is also a viable cultural alterNATIVE to the oral tradition. With literacy, my influences from contemporary Canadian visual culture also include the words WIThin words pervasive in Canadian printed words (alluding to some of the visual roots of some forms of literacy, alluding to the visual punning characteristic of traditional Coast Salish art).

 The other significant influence in my work from contemporary Canadian visual culture includes the logos of Canada. Although I really agree with some of Naomi Klein's (... Calvin Klein's / no friend of mine / don't want nobody's name / on my behind --Run DMC'Rock Box') contentions on contemporary logos as being symbolic and symptomatic of globalization, cultural commodification, commercialization, dehumanization, and social stratification, I approach logos from the perspective of the etymology of the word 'logo'. The term logo is rooted in the Greek wor 'logos', which means 'words' o'to speak,' a significant etymology which compliments the oral tradition of Coast Salish culture. The logos which have a significant influence on my work as a contemporary Coast Salish artist include the logos of HD-DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Oakley, Nike, Aol, Gillette “Fusion,” as well as the numerous other logos which utilize circles, ovals and crescents in their logos. With these logos, circles, ovals and crescents generally symbolize motion, hi-technology, or quality service, which are intended to serve secular and commercial ends. In traditional Coast Salish art, circles, ovals, and crescents are utilized to create a real fluid flowing feeling, a real rhythmic rippling feeling, and are deSIGN (the sign and the signified) elements integral to the expression of Coast Salish spirituality. So in being influenced by these logos, I am reflecting the contemporary Coast Salish cultural reality of globalization and assimilation, while simultaneously reflecting the cultural reality of cultural change; a perspective intended to challenge Western notions of First Nations “tradition.”

I am reclaiming my human agency
 I never listened to Indian agents
 This is no'Manifist Destiny' 
I am not yOUR destiNATION
 I am manifesting my destiny
 I will not act Indian
 under the Indian Act

 If colonialism attempts
 to break my heART
 I will transform
 the tragedy
 of my broken heART
 into he-art

 bpNichol wi 'H' in the heart
 lessLIE transforming
 the tragedy
 of my broken heART
 into he-art

 ….

 With pride and love, I dedicate this solo exhibition to my grandfather, Gary Rice, the first cousin of Susan Point. Gary Rice instilled in me the dream of becoming a contemporary Northwest Coast artist. As a six year old boy, I used to visit Gary in his basement workshop while he was carving. As a six year old boy, I used to attempt to help Gary with the sanding and painting of his carvings, and began the childhood dream of becoming an artist.

 --lessLIE

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