Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

“shaman as a worm”


Some time ago I was in Toronto and out to supper with a few people down from the north — and we hit on the topic of insects and bugs. I found out that evening that most people in the north hate insects and bugs. This is because there aren’t as many different kinds up there as there are here in the south… and when something different shows up, they just aren’t welcoming it!

Then I was told that there is a certain time of year that caribou are not killed for their fur — because the hide will have insect eggs embedded into the skin… only to hatch later when the weather warms up. So the skins in the late summer / early fall are not the ones used for clothing for that very reason.

So, having all this in mind, I began thinking of how one could make a piece that could describe this. I decided to make a half-man / half-worm with antlers… thinking that the shaman transformed the caribou into a man to trick the flies into not laying their eggs as usual — thus keeping the skin the shaman would use for his own clothing worm free!

—Michael Massie

Michael Massie

Michael Massie


Inuit, Métis

Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

(1962- )

Massie’s work is a reflection of his mixed Inuit, Métis and Scottish heritage. In it, he investigates both traditional and contemporary themes. He has achieved renown for his innovative teapots that combine themes and symbols from his native Inuit culture with European traditions. Massie has been twice short-listed for the coveted Prix Saidye Bronfman and has an extensive international reputation. His work has been shown in North America and Europe, including the National Gallery of Canada. He was elected a member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011.