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Photographed by Byron Dauncey.
Claude “Rocky” LaRock gives form to the narratives and themes expressed by the spiritual and supernatural figures central to his culture and community in a way that renders them anew. Using chainsaws and power tools, and adorning his masks with a level of material complexity virtually unprecedented in Northwest Coast art, LaRock departs from the ceremonial form to create an altogether different kind of mask intended not to transform the identity of a wearer but to transform the condition of the viewer.
Claude Rocky LaRock (b. 1958), is a Stó:lō master carver based in the community of Sts’ailes, his mother’s traditional Coast Salish territory on the Canadian West Coast. LaRock’s distinct visual language reflects contemporary themes, drawing a connection between present life and the supernatural. He carves with a chainsaw and power tools in place of traditional carving tools. LaRock masterfully renders the character and essence of spiritual figures, in some cases depicting beings in the process of decay, divided between the living world and the underworld. His work challenges perceptions of indigenous art, moving beyond ceremonial to contemporary art. The Reach (Abbotsford) recently presented a survey of his work in ‘E’yies’lek Rocky LaRock: The Wild Inside’ (2021).
The Wisdom Whisperer (detail)
The Protector Spirit (detail)
The Seeker (detail)