Noisecat’s initial concept sketch.
In conjunction with representing his feature solo exhibition Sqātsza7 Tmicw – Father Land, Ed Archie NoiseCat was an artist in residence in 2020 for the summer carving of a twenty-foot cedar pole with Lil’wat apprentice Qawam Redmond Andrews. Located on our Mezzanine Patio, guests were encouraged to observe the creative process and teachings between the master carver and his apprentice.
The SLCC’s Digital Marketing Specialist Jennifer Adelson caught up with NoiseCat in the summer of 2020 to talk about this project while he prepped the cedar pole on our Mezzanine Patio:
Jennifer Adelson: What was the original plan for the pole carving and did it change?
Ed Archie NoiseCat: The original plan for the cedar pole carving was to do a twenty-foot piece, twenty inches by twenty inches. Unfortunately, there was no way we could get twenty inches from the log we had gotten locally. Squamish Nation happened to have on hand two yellow cedar logs that they provided to us for the project. These logs have been turned into two five-foot by twenty-inch logs that will be stacked on top of each other and make up the lightning bolt and thunderbird.
The two main characters of the piece are the thunderbird and bear dancer separated by a lightning bolt. There will be a Spider Woman Mask that will be carved in wood (possibly molded and cast in glass) mounted on the thunderbird descending from the heavens that represent the Women’s Warrior Song that was given to my Aunty, Sawt Martina Pierre, a strong leader amongst my people, in a dream. In the chest of the thunderbird, there’s a space to put a portrait of my great grandfather, N’kasusa7 Harry Peters, who was a great Chief. I plan to do the Chief’s Portrait in glass and the [Mezzanine Patio] allows backlighting, which is essential for glass making. The bear dancer is a staple of our culture here and I wanted to touch on all the things I was aware of that stand out as representations of his family and culture.
Adelson: How was the design chosen?
NoiseCat: The thunderbird represents the territory because the native name of Black Tusk is ‘the place where thunderbird rests/sits’ in both Nations and this symbol is what I built my entire career on. That story of that place gave me a strong sense of belonging and something to hold on to as part of my culture, and my imagery has always been built around the thunderbird as it’s a staple of cultural being.
My cousin Jackie is a bear dancer and I also bear danced so its a strong representation of the culture and part of my family’s rights. This piece is based on a few pieces done for the show, like Power and the Glory (pictured above), which was a good image to start with because the lightning bolt is an anchor. I wanted a way to depict the supernatural world and natural world in one piece by showcasing the symbolism of the song being delivered by the spider woman mask.
Adelson: Anything you want to teach Qawam in particular?
NoiseCat: That’s the great thing about this project, I’m able to provide Qawam transient skills that I’ve spent my life pursuing. He gets an accelerated class in carving by working one on one with a master carver. I’ve developed a style of carving over my years as an artist working with others and obtaining different tools. Growing up, there weren’t any Lil’wat carvers to study so I looked to other Nations’ artists to learn how to carve. Now, I’ve accidentally filled a void that’s been lacking for a long time, as I am a Lil’wat master carver.
Adelson: What is your timeline for how long you expect the carving to take?
NoiseCat: I will be here on-site for a couple of months to begin with and we plan to get most of the carving done in that time. I will then go home to do the glasswork for the piece and come back to complete it. I don’t foresee any issues or obstacles with the piece being built in the next couple of months.
Adelson: Where will the cedar pole be raised?
NoiseCat: In the right-hand corner of the Great Hall, to the right of the Sun and the Moon pieces.
For more information about Ed Archie Noisecat, visit slcc.ca/exhibits/ed-noisecat
August 12, 2020 - September 30, 2020
Ed Archie NoiseCat, Dawn Johnson
First Peoples Cultural Council, Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, BC Arts Council, and the Province of BC.