"In this book, Terri-Lynn has given us a great gift. It is a work of exquisite power and beauty. As you follow its details, it will change how you see life itself"
-JOHN BORROWS, Canadian Research Chair in Indigenous Law, University of Victoria
In Out of Concealment, Haida artist, performer and activist Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson re-imagines the ancient feminine Supernatural Beings of Haida Gwaii, epic figures in the Haida Nation's origin stories, which have been passed down for millennia. These historical narratives illustrate the Haida's values, customs, rituals, laws, and relationships with the earthly and metaphysical realms, and reinforce a worldview through which the natural environment is a sacred domain, not to be dominated or exploited. Transforming her image into SGuuluu Jaad, Foam Woman; Ts'uu K'waayga, Cedar sister; Xuuajii Jaad, Grizzly Bear Woman; and many others, Williams-Davidson pays homage to these powerful Beings and brings their spirit into the light for new generations and audiences to enjoy and learn from. Blending visual and performance art with personal reflection, meticulous ethnographic research, and traditional Haida ethical principles, Out of Concealment places the wisdom of Supernatural Beings in a modern context and invites us to reconsider our own relationship to the land, the sea, and the sky. Foreword by Wade Davis and Gwaaganad (Diane Brown).
The book features over thirty full-colour surreal photo montages featured in the exhibit. The montages also integrate traditional Haida form-line art by Robert Davidson. "Out of Concealment" was released to coincide with an exhibition of Williams-Davidson’s work at the Haida Gwaii Museum.
"This book is a mind-blowing masterpiece. Like all great art, it pierces the heart and electrifies the mind. Beauty and brilliance burst from the pages like a killer whale breaching the sea"
-DAVID R. BOYD, environmental lawyer, professor and author of "The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World"
The following is an excerpt from "Out of Concealment".
Ts'uu k'waayga - cedar sister
Ts'uu K'waayGa, Cedar Sister, appears standing among her older sisters, with her legs elongated and arms reaching for the light. Her garments are simple and elegant, constructed of burlap with cedar bark roses and iridescent accents. She wears a red-cedar bark headband adorned with abalone shells, symbolizing the interconnectedness of the forests and oceans.
One of her older cedar sisters contains Robert Davidson's mask, the Spirit of Cedar. This mask was created during the time when cedar trees were high-graded during large-scale industrial logging of Haida Gwaii. Cedar trees do not effectively regenerate outside of the shade of the understorey, and introduced deer eat cedar seedlings, making this high-grading especially troublesome. The percentage of cedar trees in the forest has dropped from 30 percent to 10 percent. Robert left the mask intentionally bare, with an anguished face to show the vulnerability of the cedar tree.
Turning to natural law, we learn two important laws from Cedar Sister. First, straight-grained cedar trees grow in the understorey of old-growth forests. Likewise, the support of a community is necessary for our own growth so that, in turn, we become contributing members of the community. Second, just as decomposing cedar trees often become nurse logs for other seedlings, we can learn to draw upon ancestral knowledge and the knowledge of those who have come before us.