“Out of Concealment: Haida Female Supernatural Beings”

“Out of Concealment: Haida Female Supernatural Beings” is an exhibit showcased at the Haida Gwaii Museum from June 2017 to December 31, 2017.

This dynamic project is a three-dimensional storytelling installation that encompasses photos, music, sound and dialogue. 

‘Out of Concealment’ is the translation of the original name for Haida Gwaii, referring to Raven, the trickster, taking the islands of Haida Gwaii out of concealment of the realm of the supernatural beings to share with humanity.

The concept of this exhibition is to convey origin and oral traditions from the Haida Nation about female supernatural beings.  Passed on from generation to generation through oral tradition, these are important narratives that illustrate the Nation’s laws, values, customs, rituals and relationships with earthly and metaphysical realms. Click here to download the exhibit catalogue.

 
 

”Conceptually, I want to capture these Beings as they might be, unguarded, basking in the beauty of their surroundings, basking in who they are – unguarded moments of sensuality.
That is our challenge today – to fully embrace who we are and where we’ve been to get to our destination, and our new state of transformation.”
— Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson
 Laa.a Jaad (Fine Weather Woman)

Laa.a Jaad (Fine Weather Woman)

Curator Statement

One of the main laws of the Haida Nation is yahguudang, or respect, meaning respect for all things: land, water and air; the Supernatural; our Ancestors and each other. As GwaaGanad taught me, it is only when we show such respect that we can be worthy of respect ourselves.

From this law, and many others of our nation, come the privilege of responsibility. Somewhere along the line Haida Gwaii and the Supernatural Beings decided to believe in us. That is why we are here. They taught us how to live with Haida Gwaii and entrusted us with the stewardship of our home and of each other. This is the highest honour—to not only exist, but to exist with the gift of consciousness, conscience and a quest for knowledge.

Lalaxaaygans, Terri-Lynn, brings respect and responsibility to everything she does. In Out of Concealment, she bravely enters the Supernatural realm. I believe they let Lalaxaaygans in because of her dedication to Haida Gwaii and Haida law. They trusted she would remind us of their daily existence, of why we are here, and the responsibilities we hold. In this, we remember we are privileged to exist, and that our relationship to Haida Gwaii can only be one of reciprocity.

Out of Concealment gives us the opportunity to not only embrace and act on these reminders, but to respect and embrace the feminine powers surrounding us, and the feminine powers that exist in all of us. Strong girls, strong world, as the saying goes.

This critical, original and wondrous iteration of ancient histories and wisdoms passed down through the generations is in itself, Supernatural. Haawa to one of the strongest women I know for this gift.

Jisgang | Nika Collison
Executive Director, Haida Gwaii Museum

 

“My mother said you have to be so careful, because your actions will have bearing on your children and your grandchildren, and everybody to come after. So how you conduct yourself is very important. My first lesson on anything was respect for all things.”
— GwaaGanad, Diane Brown
 

The exhibit consists of 34 images, (2 of which are rendered in video presentations, 1 on a silk panel and 2 in LED Light boxes), plus 10 portraits of the larger oral history montages. Three images have motion-sensors to trigger new compositions of songs associated with three of the Supernatural Beings. One of the videos illustrates an oral history and includes a composition (performed with Bill Henderson and Claire Lawrence); the second video depicts a transformation and has an archival song of Terri-Lynn's great grandmother and her contemporaries singing. The compositions are all included in Terri-Lynn's new album.

The sharing of oral traditions and 'Story-telling' is an art form specific to Indigenous Peoples - this exhibit integrates contemporary technology and ideas to bring ancient narratives of the supernatural into a modern context.

“Out of Concealment” aims to help people – both within the Haida Nation and the general public – to see the feminine and powerful land and seascapes of Haida Gwaii through a worldview where the land and sea are human and worthy of respect, not to be dominated and exploited.

I drew upon my experience as a Haida dancer. We use masks to portray different creatures; the Haida word for mask means literally, “to imitate”, but in the context of dance it means to “bring to life”.
— Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson

The exhibit also features a companion book released by Heritage Publishing, a stunning collection featuring the powerful and whimsical photo montages. Accompanied by meticulous ethnographic research, and insightful, reflective text describing the being’s place in Haida cosmology, the book is available at fine retailers, and at Amazon