Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas: Haida Manga Public Art

Kevin Griffin

The Vancouver Sun

Visual Arts - Art Seen

December 2, 2011

Abundance Fenced (2011), by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas and Y Public Art

One of the city's newest public art works is a 43-metre-long steel sculpture inspired by the record-setting 2010 Fraser River Salmon run.

Abundance Fenced is located at Knight Street and 33rd Avenue along the top of a concrete retaining wall beside Kensington Park. It serves as a decorative railing beside the pedestrian path.

Created by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, the work is in the artist's signature Haida manga style that combines traditional Northwest Coast forms and contemporary Japanese graphic animation.

According to a city of Vancouver news release, "the sculpture depicts two sets of stylized orca whales facing opposite directions with their tail flukes meeting in the centre and their faces rising up to define a metaphorical passageway. The whales pursue cascading salmon down a slope towards the North Shore mountains. The salmon are welded together in a timeless pursuit to represent a system of interdependence essential to all of us."

A community celebration of the work will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Kensington Community Centre, Seniors' Lounge, 5175 Dumfries Street.

Yahgulanaas has also published award-winning graphic books including his newest called Old Growth which was also the name of an exhibition he held earlier this year at grunt gallery. In a previous Culture Seen, I wrote that the exhibition displayed a selection of the drawings and cartoons he made over a 30-year-period including the time when he was part of the fight to control the resources of Haida Gwaii.

I wrote in another blog earlier this year that one of his works - Coppers from the Hood - had been purchased by the British Museum.

Abundance Fenced was commissioned by Vancouver as part of the Clark-Knight Corridor Public Art Plan. Details about the plan and the city's Public Art Program are at vancouver.ca/publicart.