This original design is a great examples of Louie's unique merger of contemporary themes and traditional Coast Salish design. Here Blue Jay is captured at the moment he finally let's go of the trivial matters associated with his daily grind - a moment that sometimes takes human beings 3 or 4 days of vacation to achieve. This print reminds us of the importance of self-care.
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.
Letting go of stress and trauma isn't easy. In this whimsical piece by Louie Gong (Nooksack), Rez Cat celebrates the release of negativity by rising above a toxic melee of wolf or dog mouths. This image is a strong reminder that the relief and joy associated with "letting go" is always available to us, if we choose it.
About Rez Cat - In 2010, Louie adopted a scruffy-looking wild tabby kitten from the Muckleshoot Reservation, where he was working at the time. On his first night at Louie’s house, an exhausted “Rez Cat” curled up in his new litter box and went to sleep, presumably because he was used to sleeping in dirt and gravel. As Rez Cat got older, he would often stay out all night hunting and leave various “presents” at Louie’s doorstop in the morning. Since then, Rez Cat has been a common subject in Louie’s art (and now has a softer bed to rest on).
The original 18" x 24" painting (spray paint, acrylic, ink pen and wood stain on wool panel) was created for the 2017 Indigenous Comicon.
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?