Rocky LaRock - Spirit Masks
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Installation views, Monte Clark, Vancouver, 2022.
Sásq’ets, the gifted. (The one who hears the spirits’ song)
Cedar, antlers, fur and wil- low branches
30 x 29 x 15 in (Willow Branches ~64 in)
Th’ōx̱iya (The cannibal woman)
Cedar, antlers, horse hair & copper
31 x 55 x 22 in (Overall lenght with hair: 40in)
Há:we (the hunter)
Cedar, antlers, wool & feathers
32 x 21 x 12 in
Sásq’ets héyeqw (Sas- quatch fire)
Cedar and antlers
23 x 30 x 12 in
Sásq’ets syiwí:l (Sasquatch spirit power)
Cedar, cedar bark & feathers
14 x 21 x 6.5 in (Overall height with bark: 50 in)
Sásq’ets the portal (travels between the physical and spiritual worlds)
Cedar, cedar bark, horse hair, antlers, bones, copper, deer and bear teeth
30 x 24 x 16 in (Overall height with hair: 50 in)
The Sasquatch, or “Sásq’ets” is an important figure to the Stó:lō people, featured in myths as a powerful but generally benign wild man. He is described as a tall and hairy supernatural creature of the woods. Rocky tells the story of his encounters with Sasquatch:
“When we go out into the woods, it’s important that we alway acknowledge Sasquatch, or Sásq’ets. We bring him food, we pray to him, we give him fish and meat, plants and berries and medicines. He’s our go-to guy, he’s our god.
One morning it had just snowed, I was on my usual morning trek into the forest with a bag of leftovers for the ravens and I dumped my food onto a stump and faced the east, and acknowledged gave thanks to creator, to spirit for everything. On my way back home, I looked down and there was a big indentation in the snow. At first I thought it was maybe from the snow falling off the branches. But it was shaped just like a bear foot, but it was much bigger. So I stepped back and looked back, and there was another one, and another one. And they were really far apart, so I had ato jump to get from one to the other. And when I followed the tracks back, they went right from the stump where I’d left the food, all the way right to my yard. That showed me I wasn’t walking alone, and I wasn’t only feeding the ravens.
Back home all the elders could tell you stories of encounters with the Sasquatch. To the Coast Salish people, he’s what we have left of our culture. We don’t hunt him, we don’t exploit him, we leave gifts for him and we respect him. Every winter and spring all the longhouses make plates of food for him, and we spoil him rotten. ”
– Stó:lō master carver Claude “Rocky” LaRock in conversation with Adrienne Fast, curator of The Reach (Abbotsford, BC), 2021.