Taking Haida art to interpretive heights

  • Aug. 26, 2015 8:00 p.m.

By Evelyn von AlmassyHaida Gwaii ObserverSEI , an unconventional work of art with Haida origins by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ was unveiled at the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet, at the Vancouver Airport, July 9, 2015. The sculpture, made of highly polished stainless steel, standing four-metres tall and weighing at 3,800 kilograms, is named after the sei whale, one of the largest. The wide, imposing arch of the sculpture represents the whale out of water. However, Mr. Yahgulanaas says the whale is but one element of the installation designed to reflect the mind and thoughts of the observers themselves. Mr. Yahgulanaas was born in 1954 in Masset, with his Haida name, Yahladaas, meaning White Raven, and he is of the Saangaahl IIaanas Sdastaas clan.”Public art is where the voice of a single artist is exchanged for the chorus of many. SEI was designed to be accessible, interactive and engaging for vast numbers of people over great spans of time. SEI is now beginning a journey that depends on those observers to find meaning and direction.” He adds his art, and the SEI piece in particular, is both the object and the observer. The design was 18 months in the making. Mr. Yahgulanaas was highly influenced by English artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth’s work, which also played heavily with negative space.”Who controls that invisible space? It is not controllable; it’s the negative space, the opposite to filling the space.”He adds, the piece is also about the reflection. “See it for what it reflects – that’s what the piece is all about. It’s going to outlast us all; is it made out of high marine steel – it is built to last; it is as much about the ovoids as in the Haida art form. “SEI is a large selfie, as you can contemplate yourself as the art work.” When the Observer reached Mr. Yahgulanaas, he was on his way to the First Seattle Arts Fair, where his work, “RED: A Haida Manga” was being promoted on four billboards. Haida Manga is an art form created by Mr. Yahgulanaas, where the form combines the bold lines of traditional Haida art with the narrative form of Asian comics. Mr. Yahgulanaas believes in the observer of art needing to make more decisions. For art on a canvas for example, the notion is that “there is no dominant horizon. How do I hang this? Figure it out yourself.” Besides the work in Seattle, and a car hood auction at the Vancouver Art Gallery, his work will be at the New York American Museum of Natural History in October. From Sept. 18 to Jan. 2 Mr. Yahgulanaas’ Haida Manga work will be on display at the Kay Centre in Skidegate.

Just Posted

Subsea internet cable to link up Haida Gwaii

Cable to connect Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast with mainland network

Tlellagraph: Sweet tips for beating the big SAD monster

By Janet Rigg Well, how are we all doing? 2018 appears to… Continue reading

Northwest economy remains uncertain

The Northern Development Initiative Trust releases its State of the North economic report

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Photos: Ts’aahl wins super-close Clan Tournament

Three games finished in overtime. In the semi-final, the defending Clan Tournament… Continue reading

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

RCMP nail sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Double-doubles and demonstrations: Employees rally outside Tim Hortons

Protests held in response to Ontario franchise owners cutting employee benefits and breaks

Most Read