Rocky LaRock: New works
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Monte Clark is pleased to share new works by E’yies’lek “Rocky” LaRock. Stó:lō master carver LaRock has had a career as a practicing artist for over forty years, during which time he has produced a number of masks that are easily recognizable as Northwest Coast Indigenous art: they are immaculately carved by hand, represent familiar mythological and spiritual figures, and are adorned with the conventional ovoids and forms characteristic of traditional formline techniques.
Though traditional methodologies of making and doing continue to be an essential part of Northwest Coast Indigenous cultures, LaRock has, in his recent work, differentiated dramatically from ceremonial forms to create an altogether different kind of mask whose function is not to transform the identity of its wearer, but to transform the condition of the viewer — an important distinction that calls for a specific approach to viewing this new work.
The fundamental event in the engendering of LaRock’s methodology occurred when the artist entered a carving competition in Hope, BC, wherein all twelve of his competitors worked efficiently and swiftly with chainsaws and power tools, while he alone worked painstakingly by hand. This event so profoundly affected him that he returned to his home, threw out all of his hand tools and replaced them with power tools and chainsaws, with which he began carving not according to a strict adherence to symmetry or precision, but to an intuited response to the feel of the wood. The resulting rough aesthetic produced by this mode of working marks the first in a series of bold creative decisions that have come to define LaRock’s work, and it is through this mode of working that LaRock gives form to the narratives and themes expressed by the spiritual and supernatural figures central to his culture and community — such as Raven, Eagle, Heron, or Sasquatch (Sasq’ets) — in such a manner that renders them anew.