4 totems – fire, earth, water, wind – by Curtis Dickie

In July 2022 I paired with Northern Rockies Art Council and Curtis Dickie of the Kwakwaka’wakw and Dene people and living in Fort Nelson B.C.

Curtis was carving four totems – fire, earth, water, and wind – for Hudson’s Hope school longhouse. For an article of the project see https://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/regional-news/hudsons-hope/hudsons-hope-longhouse-taking-shape-5672597

Sketches for Fire and Water

Over the next few weeks I would visit Curtis as he was carving and take photos of the process from start to finish. We would sit and talk and discuss the trials and errors that went along with carving a totem out of Douglas fir – not the traditional cedar. Fir was used because it would be more hardy for the cold and wet weather in the northern part of B.C. , whereas red cedar is primarily found only in southern and coastal areas of western Canada and USA.

By the third week of August, the totems had to be completed, which gave only a month of carving. Curtis encountered a few hiccups along the way, with a couple pieces having large cracks, and one with several big knots in the section that was marked for carving. Adjustments to the design had to be made in order to fit the elements Curtis wanted for his design. He had to sacrifice some artistic elements in order to ensure the carving stayed together and didn’t break. Some elements in his carvings have hidden designs within the animal. Can you find the wise man, raven, and the fish hidden in two of the other figures? A few final embellishments were added like ’empty space’ behind arms (the wood is lifted off of the pole itself with free space behind it), and finishing nails for eyes.

Unfortunately, I was unable to be there on the final day to see ‘wind’ completed – I will need to make a trip out to Hudson’s Hope to see the finished building and all of the totems in place.

I want to say thank you to NR Art Council and Nancy for contacting me about this opportunity, and Mahsi Cho to Curtis for allowing me to share in documenting this beautiful carving process. I look forward to working with you again in the future!

Golden Sunrise in the Cold

In the morning glow, on a winding path, the golden lace billows in the icy air. Hundreds of tiny trees fade into the distance, the buttes grow into high mountain tops. The Rocky Mountains of the North rise from the flat lands on the East, and spindly trees in the South, before hitting a vast expanse to the North. Although close to people, you are also far away; it is part of living in the North that gives both excitement and loneliness.

#Reddressseries Liard Hot Springs

I have always enjoyed dressing up. As a child I wore dresses (every day) until I was in Grade 6 when a boy made fun of me and asked why I didn’t wear pants like normal girls. I am happy to say I still enjoy dresses from time to time (but do find pants warmer and more practical for most cases), and when I do wear a dress I like to make an occasion of it — like this #reddress gown I made for photography. If you have never visited Liard Hot Springs a few hours north of Fort Nelson, B.C in Canada, I recommend you make a trip. Not only do we see northern lights (almost daily in winter), but we have the best hot springs I have ever visited! They are naturally occurring, and surrounded by trees and wildlife. Often you will find moose in the shallow spring areas eating vegetation year round (do be careful as they are wild and very dangerous — they are not trained photo-props). If you are looking for a remote adventure, far from large cities and light pollution, come visit Northern B.C. and enjoy what nature has to offer. #northernrockiestourism #northernrockies #travelBC #travelnorthernBC

Fort Nelson, British Columbia

A new adventure awaits in the North. Welcome to Fort Nelson and surrounding area on the Alaska Highway.