Salmon weave through Coast Salish culture and communities like rivers through the coastal rainforest. This is the web of life that connects the oceans to the trees of the Pacific Northwest. The story of orcas, salmon, bears and trees illustrate the sacred link in the Pacific Salmon Forests. Even before salmon swim up rivers and streams to spawn, their bodies, in one way or another feed entire ecosystems.
From the far reaches of the North Pacific, salmon are feasting on rich sources of protein allowing them to grow rapidly and make their migration back to spawning streams on the West Coast. Once past the orca pods, up to 80% of the returning salmon end up on the forest floor dragged to their final resting place by bears.
These bears leave behind much of the carcass, an estimated 60 million kilograms each year. These carcasses can end up hundreds of meters away from the stream.
There is a strong link concerning prosperous salmon runs and trout populations; The insects that feed on salmon remains become food not only for salmon fry, but also for trout, and create huge surges in trout populations as they feed on the insects and plankton stimulated by the decaying remains.
Watersheds up and down the coast can give an insight to the ancient history of salmon by tracking the marine nitrogen isotope, Nitrogen 15 in tree rings.
Salmon are not simply for human beings; Coast Salish Nations of the Pacific Coast have acknowledged this Sacred Balance for millennia, but also, it has a renewed hearing thanks to research done by Canadian biologist, Tom Reimchen.*
Living here on the Northwest Coast, it is apparent to me that the air I breathe is part of this amazing transference of the enduring spirits of these salmon. These salmon, among other species, complete the circle of life.
My vision for this piece was inspired from spending the winter in the Cariboo last year. By looking out the cabin door, at the snow covered trees it was easy to imagine these images, and many more within the nitrogen rich trees of the Fraser River watershed.
“A river never sleeps.” SP - 2016
Coast Salish (Musqueam)
Susan began making limited edition prints on her kitchen table in 1981 while working as a legal secretary. She received several early commissions, which established her reputation for innovative proposals and for completing projects on time, on budget and at the highest level. She took courses in silver, casting and carving, all of which led to monumental sculptures in mixed media, and she was the first Northwest Coast artist to work in glass. She continues to release a number of print editions each year, but her focus has been on commissioned sculpture.
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