The indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast are salmon people. Each species of salmon, with its seasonal order of appearance dictated human activities, and indeed, their wealth. Historically, the sea’s bounty was so great and easily harvested, that the Northwest Coast had one of the densest non-agricultural populations on earth. This resource freed time to develop a highly complex culture.
This is a formline depiction of a spawning female and male Oncorynchus tshawytscha, known commonly by various names: Chinook, Spring, King, Tyee, Blackmouth, and in the Haida language, Taawaan. They are the largest of all the Pacific salmon, and being anadromous, hatch in freshwater, spending time in estuaries and shorelines before going to sea, then returning to their birthplace stream to spawn anywhere from their second to seventh year. Travel in the freshwater spawning migration can be extensive; up to two thousand river miles over a sixty-day period. The human figures within the design signify the valuable role salmon play in our lives and our need to honour and respect that relationship.
April White, "Sgaan Jaad", was born on Haida Gwaii and is a descendant from the famous chief and carver, Charles Edenshaw.
When she needs to 'come home' for inspiration and rejuvenation, she has another home in Massett on Haida Gwaii. Perched on the northern tip of these rugged but beautiful islands, April says "in Masset I am really able to re-infuse myself with the power that comes from my Haida culture. When I'm creating art, I experience innate memories that deeply connect me to my cultural past. It's as if not my eyes, but only my brain is really doing the seeing. The feeling of this cerebral vision is supernatural...magical."
Creating art is everything for April---her life and inspiration. Take time and enjoy your visit with April and her art. Words can't begin to describe her work. Just a glimpse of what she imagines, and the myths and legends of her people, live forever in her art.