"EYES OF SOCIETY - ReImagining Regionalism"
The Union Club of British Columbia
April SGaana Jaad White
SGaana Jaad (Killer Whale Woman) Dadens Yaghu’jaanaas Raven Clan Haida
'Ibis in the Iris'
2018 Acrylic on Cradled Board – 30” x 30”
In a recent article in Audubon magazine (Summer 2018), April describes the challenge of rendering a bird common in Florida, but not in Haida Gwaii: The White Ibis. April makes it her own therefore, and takes this opportunity to depart further than usual from the symmetry that generally defines formline work. The decision, a year ago, to place the whole composition within the curves of a human eye (echoing design elements elsewhere in the composition) make this piece an obvious choice for inclusion in our latest 'Eyes Of Society' exhibition.
Perhaps the eye reflected here is April's, as she studies a creature that was, until now, 'new territory', for the Haida aesthetic. When April says (in the interview for this article) "we should be a lot more aware of what's around us," she might well be speaking of her own experience – upon exploring (and creating) something new – but this comment is one that would apply, just as easily, to us all.
2019 - Watercolour on 300lb paper – 5.5” x 15”
The remnants of an eye, carved a century ago, still watches out over an ancient Haida village site. Moss and decay encroaches, but the eye itself remains clear, defined, as if the spirit within resists the passage of time; keeping vigil until the pole falls and finally returns to the earth.
April White earned her Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the University of British Columbia. She has worked as a field geologist in many remote areas of the North American West, rendering the natural world into maps and honing her intrinsic artistic inclination. Th is experience has been invaluable in developing the visual facility fundamental to creating her works of art. The essential spirit she captures reflects a life defined by proximity to the salt water. Gaining an internal perspective while working on the water and fully experiencing the dynamic power of this life-force has strengthened an enduring personal connection.
Born on Haida Gwaii, of the Yahgu’jaanaas Raven Clan. Through her father, she is a direct descendant of the renowned Stasas Eagle Chief and Haida artist Charles Edenshaw and Haida weaver Isabella Edenshaw. Formally named SGaana Jaad (Killer Whale Woman) in potlatch by elders of her clan, she strives to honour this powerful name and to be respectful of their wisdom in her naming.
Entirely self-taught, April’s inherent expressiveness derives from her Haida heritage where being an artist is an honoured, traditional profession. The freedom to explore the limitless possibilities of imagination and creativity is a legacy of this tradition. April feels it is a privilege to demonstrate her reverence for her ancestors as she interprets the natural and mythological world, employing scientific methodology and traditional Haida values.
“From inspiration through to artistic expression... it’s as if I am experiencing innate memories that connect me deeply to my cultural past. It’s as if my brain is really doing the seeing, not my eyes. The feeling of this cerebral vision is supernatural... magical.”
“The Haida have a saying, ‘The world is as sharp as a knife.’ Inherent in the creation of my art is an awareness of the challenges presented by my choice of media: every stroke or cut is irrevocable and fills me with exhilarating suspense... I’m living on the knife’s edge.”
Andrew Cheddie Sookrah
"Eagle Spirit Dance, Ninstints"
Hltaaxuulang Guud Ad K’aajuu (Dance Troupe, Skidegate)
2018 – Acrylic on Panel – 24” x 24”
"Frog Spirit Dance, Tanu, The Origin"
Hltaaxuulang Guud Ad K’aajuu Dance Troupe, Skidegate
2017 – Acrylic on Panel – 36” x 36”
"Pissing Mare Falls, Gros Morne, Western Brook Pond 1"
2018 – Acrylic on Canvas – 2018 – 18” x 24”
"Beyond Pissing Mare Falls, Gros Morne, Western Brook Pond 2"
2018 – Acrylic on Canvas – 2018 – 18” x 24”
Andrew Cheddie Sookrah is a Canadian artist living, working in Toronto and member of Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, Society of Canadian Artists (Lifetime, Mentor), Ontario Society of Artists, Portrait Society Of Canada. Sookrah is a raw colourist whose free brushwork is confi dent and powerful. His strengths can be seen in his strong sense of design, exquisite use of effective composition, and confident presentation of bold colours. His is a masterful exploration of the interconnectivity of everything.
“All of my work is the result of an intense interview between my existence and that of my subject's. I would hope that the result be informed more by knowledge rather than by mere belief."
2019 - Watercolour Pastel – 57¼” x 34¼”
2019 - Watercolour on Paper – 25½” x 20¾”
"I was born in Nova Scotia, and grew up intimately connected to its Atlantic coast. This upbringing plays a central role as an inspirational catalyst in my underwater seaweed paintings. I earned a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and have lived throughout Canada, inspired by the bodies of water where I have lived. “More than just the simple composition of the underwater universe, I try to communicate all the subtle layers of these ecosystems and their quiet strength.” Using a variety of media, watercolours, pastels, and ink, I explore the subtle language of this underwater world; painting the dancing seaweeds, the play of light and shadow, of textures, and movement. Having dove and snorkelled in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Caribbean, I strive to communicate the energy that resonates the language of the sea, unheard but deeply felt. I truly believe that subconsciously there is a connection with us and the sea, a primeval attraction, that we are drawn to it; that it calls to somewhere deep inside all of us. It is my intention that those experiencing my work feel a connection with the sea in which they feel a spark of knowing within themselves, that they too, belong to this complex global ecosystem."
“I seek to paint the spirit of the underwater. I am an advocate for seaweed environments, needing to communicate how critical these habitats are to life on Earth. The oceans are the lungs of the planet, more so than any forest. The atmosphere of the planet was born from, and still is in most part fed by aquatic plants. Seaweeds are the forests of the oceans; nurturing all life from the microscopic to the largest animals of this planet. A recent trip to Haida Gwaii reaffirmed for me a responsibility to bring awareness to the challenges of seaweed environments. Driven to speak for a habitat that most people do not experience in person, my paintings take you below the surface to experience this dancing web of life. Ecosystems are a delicate balance. All Life is interconnected, woven, dependant on the whole to exist. Climate change and human activity present real challenges to the balance of ecosystems which can collapse and disappear, forever.”
This piece is inspired by my observations when snorkelling in the ocean. I kept seeing a seaweed I had never seen before, and it was everywhere, taking over the landscape.
The oceans as we know them are changing. The water is warming and this is challenging the balance that has evolved for millennia. Native seaweeds are forced to compete with invasive species that before were kept at bay as the cold was an inhospitable habitat. No longer.
Seaweed is the base that supports whole ecosystems. As the plants change, so does everything that relies on them for nutrition and habitat. An invasive species may not have a natural predator to keep their expansion in check and so their populations explode, effectively choking out the native balance. An ecosystem is a weave of interconnectivity. Too great a shift risks ecosystem collapse.
These thoughts passed through my mind as I observed this new seaweed. I knew what its presence really meant and yet I could not deny its beauty, dancing in the current kissed by the sun’s rays that summer day..