This week’s Artwork Wednesday features the work of Douglas Smarch Jr. that can be found in the Yukon Arts Centre’s sculpture garden. This piece was commissioned by the Society of Yukon Artists of Native Ancestry for the Drums Echo Future Vision Project; in conjunction with the YAC’s millennium celebration “View from the Top,” which was a part of the wider Yukon and Canadian millennium celebrations. Smarch Jr. was raised in the traditional lifestyle of the Kookhitaan (Raven) Clan People of the Tlingit Nation. The artist learnt traditional stone, bone and wood carving under community artisans and continued to pursue his career as an artist abroad. Smarch Jr. returned to his home community of Teslin, Yukon in 2004 to re-connect to the natural creative environment. He is one of thirteen master sculptors currently featured in the Journey Exhbition at the Adäka Cultural Festival held at Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in Whitehorse. 

Tucked away on the Yukon Arts Centre grounds, Into the Forest beckons its visitors further into the foliage on a worn away path. In this piece Smarch Jr. explores the notion of growth and what it means to evolve and change through stages of life.  The path’s veins extend through the forest in a tree-like shape through the wooded area, at the end we are faced with four rocks representing the four elements: fire, earth, water and air. Three of the four boulders are skillfully carved into by the artist. The first boudler depicts a raven representing air, and second is shaped by whales, loons, seals and a fish to embody water. Finally, a turtle, human and bear represent the earth in the third boudler. The last component of the piece representing fire is left bare; the artist makes this stylistic choice to emphasize the natural history that the volcanic rock holds without added asethtic. Smarch Jr. purposely creates this dialogue to express his interest in interconnectivity. The interactive space is meant to be experienced through exploring, speaking to the human responsibility as keepers of our earth  not as masters but as participants.

To learn more about Douglas Smarch Jr, here.

For more information of Adäka Cultural Festiva, here