Award-winning independent Gitxsan artist Michelle Stoney and her artist/photographer brother, Alex Stoney, created a riverside art installation of monumental proportions over the weekend in South Hazelton.
Building on the success and interest of past riverside art installations, the brother and sister recreated one of Michelle’s salmon designs using natural elements such as river rocks and driftwood. This one-hundred-foot salmon showcases her unique and iconic northwest coast Indigenous art style.
Alex filmed and photographed this natural art project and guided volunteers to help with the installation.
Michele was pleased with community participation.
“Thank you to all the volunteers who came out on Friday and/or Saturday,” she said in a Facebook post. “This was a community event and the community definitely showed up!”
The project was not just about the artwork, Michelle said prior to starting the installation.
“We want to make a statement about wild salmon and their importance to all communities,” she said. “These magical creatures have been sustaining our communities for thousands of years. With salmon returns at distressingly low numbers, we think this art project will provide a good opportunity for communities to come together and celebrate not just salmon, but also to honour and celebrate Indigenous art and culture.”
Leah Pipe, a fellow Hazelton-based artist working on Gitxsan territory, helped promote this event.
“They’ve created three of these riverside art installations before and people loved them,” Pipe said. “Seeing Michelle’s art designs come to life beside a powerful river is so moving, creative, adventurous and some of the best art to come out of the north.”
While this kind of artwork is by nature temporary, she is hopeful it will last for a while.
“This is our biggest one yet and we’re really excited to bring communities together and celebrate salmon and art,” Michelle said. “We hope this installation will stick around all summer, until high water comes.”
The artwork is located at Anderson Flats (accessed from South Hazelton) and can also be viewed from across the river at the ‘Ksan Historical Village.
– Submitted with files from Thom Barker