The salmon is a primary staple of both the diet and culture of Coast Salish and Northwest Native people.
This particular design was inspired by a fishing trip to the Chehalis River in British Columbia. Louie’s Uncle Pete hooked a giant coho. Instead of trying to swim away downstream, the salmon dove down toward the bottom of the river. Although Uncle Pete ultimately brought the coho in, its unexpected dive was an image that stuck with Louie, and this piece was one of his first explorations into merging spray paint with Coast Salish designs. The dynamic motion and materials used are characteristic of Louie’s aesthetic that seamlessly blends the contemporary and traditional.
This is a fine art print of Louie Gong's most recent painting. The highly detailed original painting was created in early 2017 with wood dye, spray paint, and acrylic on a wood panel.
Developed during the height of the ugly 2016 presidential campaign, this design is intended to depict the rudimentary roles that groups of human beings - regardless of political orientation - tend to recreate over and over again: the victim, the hero, and the bully.
These roles also play out on a smaller, personal scale - like in our social lives or family relationships. Even the internal voice that helps us make decisions can lead towards oversimplifying our problems by adopting one of these roles. In doing so, we rob ourselves of the ability to appreciate complexity and diversity.
The painting is intended to be a reminder that the pathway to sustainable relationships - whether they are play out on a national scale or inside our own head - is more complicated than a sound bite or click bait headline.
From first contact, the indigenous people of North America have had a complicated relationship with Western religion. During the boarding school era of colonization (roughly mid-1800s to the 1970s), a high percentage of Native people were forcibly taken from their homes and raised in church-run, government-sanctioned boarding schools. The purpose of these schools wasn’t so much education, as it was “Kill the Indian, save the man” -- the systematic destruction of Native language, traditions, and family unit.
My Grandma, as was very typical of her generation, was taken from her home when she was a child and raised by nuns and priests in a Catholic boarding school far away. Every type of abuse you might imagine, she experienced. Although my Grandma spent 10 years in the boarding school, she never really learned to read and write. Yet until she passed away in 2002, she kept a rosary by her bed and a cross at each entrance of the house.
These pieces are meant to generate dialogue around the betrayal of trust between Indigenous communities and the churches responsible for their welfare and “development”. Is this a predator-prey relationship, or is there genuine care for the lamb -- as is typically portrayed in religious imagery?