The artist Kyle Tallio tells us:
You are looking at all living beings being represented by a whale. The whale is wearing a Labret notifying that she is a high ranking woman. Today I think we need to look at all women in our families as women that hold high positions. This is especially important because women are the backbones of families and communities.
Also included are a salmon and a box - the traditional Northwest-Coast salmon-trout heads. Here it is representing salmon specifically, which is placed in a thought bubble. This is very contemporary, demonstrating that we all have salmon on our minds. This is also a common threat to all of us; that without salmon we cannot flourish.
Below is a cedar box with four orbs on it. There are three types of boxes used in the central coast: trade, ceremonial and storage. The orbs represent many. The orbs are our three Nations and settlers. The orbs also represent awareness and furthermore, four is a sacred number to all three Nations.
Artist Profile: Kyle Tallio
Kyle, whose traditional name is Skookum Xlhalhh ti Nan, was born 1994 and identifies as Nuxalk and Heiltsuk. He is a fourth generational artist, born in Vancouver, B.C. Before moving to Terrace, BC in 2012 to begin his mentorship in both traditional and contemporary Nuxalk art under his father Lyle Mack, Kyle was a frequent visitor to Bella Coola in Nuxalk Territory. From the earliest age, his grandparents took him to Lhlm (potlatch) to connect him with his roots.
Stylistically, Nuxalk art has and continues to be a great influence, although Kyle identifies as a contemporary artist. During his mentorship, a strong foundation in design and painting was established. His skills and knowledge were further enriched through assisting his grandfather, Alvin Mack to deliver a two week carving program for Ts’ktalclayc (Coming of Age - the third of the four cultural milestones for young boys), in the summer of 2013.
At the conclusion of his first year at the Freda Diesing Northwest Coast Art Program in 2014, Kyle’s work was included in the Northern Exposure exhibit in the Spirit Wrestler Gallery. Returning to his home in Bella Coola, Kyle worked with his father Lyle on a number of projects, supporting his contribution to Nuxalkmc. In 2014 and again in 2018, Kyle assisted both his father and grandfather and other family members in completing and raising two asqayalh, or totem poles in Nuxalk Territory.
Today, Kyles continues to learn about and from both his Nuxalk and Heiltsuk ancestors to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of all that it means to be part of an Indigenous People living in a contemporary world.
“I seek to be a knowledge keeper and to have the honor of sharing that knowledge with future generations as a dynamic Nuxalk and Heiltsuk person studying art, culture and the traditions of the past whilst living in and contributing to the twenty-first century.”