Semá:th Xó:tsa: Sts’ólemeqwelh Sxó:tsa/Great Gramma’s Lake
May 12 – July 17, 2022
In November 2021, extreme rains flooded extensive areas of the Fraser Valley, including what is today known as Sumas Prairie. This “once in a century” flooding has dramatically impacted the lives and livelihoods of many Fraser Valley residents, including Stó:lō master carver E’yies’lek Claude “Rocky” LaRock. Originally scheduled for a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery at Evergreen this spring, LaRock needed to prioritize his family and community as a result of the floods, requiring a creative re-envisioning of the exhibition plan. Revolving around LaRock’s powerful carvings, the Semá:th Xó:tsa exhibition also immerses visitors in a life-size rendering of the award-winning children’s book of the same title, co-authored by Kris Foulds, Laura Schneider, Thetáx Chris Silver and Xémontélót Carrielynn Victor, who also created the illustrations. Together, the works speak to the vital, enduring importance of Semá:th Xó:tsa (Sumas Lake) to the region’s past and present, and to the enduring strength and resilience of the Stó:lō people.
This exhibition was organized and circulated by The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford.
About the Artists
E’yles’lek Claude “Rocky” LaRock, Stó:lō master carver
Born in Seattle, Rocky LaRock moved as a child with his family to his mother’s Coast Salish home territory, where he still resides, in the community of Sts’ailes (Chehalis) in the Fraser Valley. His practice is inseparable from his Stó:lō identity and his relationships to community, family and land. The artist has mastered the skills, techniques and stories of traditional hand-carving, but he is equally committed to experimentation in his work. From incorporating contemporary elements and techniques to creating carvings intended solely for display, LaRock uses a unique visual language to express contemporary, global concerns, including a focus on environmental change, through the lens of Stó:lō cosmology.
Xémontélót Carrielynn Victor
Carrielynn Victor, an artist based in the eastern Fraser Valley, is a descendant of Coast Salish ancestors, who have been sustained by S’olh Temexw (their land) since time immemorial, and Western European ancestors, who settled around northern Turtle Island beginning in the 1600s. Victor was born and raised in S’olh Temexw and nurtured by many parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Combining ancient and modern design principles, Victor’s artistic practice takes the form of murals, paintings on canvas, drums, paddles and, in recent years, illustrations for scientific reports and children’s books.