"Art is a beautiful arena for collaboration, with great potential to build lasting bridges of understanding and reconciliation between cultures."
Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, 2011
Contributing to the preservation of the Haida culture and language is my life’s work. In Haida culture, customs, beliefs, and history were passed down orally through narratives, songs, and dances. I like the idea of blending modern media and ancient traditions to address contemporary challenges, in a way that appeals to people of all ages and cultures. To me this is an important part of how Haida language and tradition is shared and perpetuated.
We live in a time where we need to look at how we can change, to become beings that live in harmony with each other and with the earth. In fact, our survival may depend upon our transformation. Transformation is embraced as a spiritual, powerful, necessary force in Aboriginal life, a common theme in traditional oral narratives, which also contains important knowledge for human conduct. Now, more than ever, we need to look at how we can take responsibility not just for who we are, but who (or what) we can become.
As a performer and dancer, the process of transformation is very real and rewarding for me. I like to use my own self as a vehicle of expression, to take on other attributes, as a reminder that the spiritual and natural worlds are connected, and that we are all connected.
Many Canadians have become aware of the cycle of injustice against Indigenous Peoples, as well as the richness of indigenous cultures, both past and present. This solidarity brings excitement and pride to my work, furthering exploration that celebrates indigenous culture, and the interlocking of culture.
Raven’s Tail is an ancient weave from the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America that Cheryl Samuel spearheaded bring back into being. She researched robes and fragments of robes, contained in museums throughout the world and wrote the seminal book “The Raven’s Tail”.
Raven’s Tail weavings are made entirely with finger manipulation, rather than with the assistance of any moving loom parts. The design elements are bold and graphic, such as the “Ancestor” pattern highlighted in the red and black tunic and leggings woven by Kay Field Parker.
The “Rainbow Robe” and “Night Rainbow” apron were both woven by Cheryl Samuel and integrate both Raven’s Tail and Chilkat weaving techniques. The rainbow is a crest of Terri-Lynn’s clan from Skedans and was worn by the “Chief of the Raven Supernatural Beings” when attending potlatches. The Ancestor and Rainbow outfits are both gifts from her husband, renowned artist Robert Davidson.
Spruce Root Hat
The spruce root hat which Terri-Lynn wears, was woven by internationally renowned Haida weaver, Isabel Rorick. Robert Davidson painted the hat with two of Terri-Lynn’s crests, the Rainbow and Mountain Goat. The hat contains Isabel’s signature weave of three concentric circles at the top, symbolizing her three sons. It was also a gift from Terri-Lynn’s husband, Robert Davidson.