|Dimensions||6 × 6 × 14.5 in|
People on the coast spent the spring, summer and fall gathering sustenance for the long harsh winters. The winter was for singing and dancing. The people gathered in their longhouses and related to one another by remembering and honoring their ancestors and sharing a genealogical relationship with the people of other houses. By naming the house posts, the people remembered their ancestors who were direct descendants of the house that had passed on before.The wolves in the design represent the Warrior Society among some of the coastal First Nations.
Nytom sometimes finds himself challenged with situations and not sure what direction he should turn or what action to take. There is a comfort, however, in knowing that his ancestors guide his actions and, like the wolves in this design, whisper to him and offer advice. All one has to do is listen.
Wolves mate for life, and Nytom often uses the wolf to inspire his imagination in creating new designs. In the cultures of coastal peoples the wolf means a great deal, and is used in ceremonies to remind us to first take care of our elders and young, before ourselves. The design shows two wolves paired off, looking at each other and another wolf pair yet to be born.
Nytom often wonders what it would take to live in a perfect world: A place where people took only what they needed, left the rest for others and always got along. This image is what I imagined the world would be like if there was such a place.
‘Thunderbirds’ is a drum design that came forth years ago. Nytom has revisited it often with the intent of creating a limited-edition print. At a potlatch in the late 1980s, Mowachaht leader Jerry Jack asked to have a design painted on his drum. It was natural to conceive a design representative of his love for his three children and their love and respect for him. The children felt much pride in their father and his efforts to keep the culture alive, and they were always ready to sing and dance at their father’s request. Even though years have passed and his children are now adults, they are just as dedicated as their father to keeping the culture alive.
As a young girl, Nytom’s mother knew a man called “Young Doctor” in the village of Neah Bay. He was an artist, carver, song maker and fisherman. His ability to make songs hadn’t come easy. Young Doctor walked bent over because of an accident in the woods. While he was caught under a tree, many songs came to him. Soon after he recovered from his accident, he brought out those songs for the people of Neah Bay. One song Nytom likes singing the most talks about frogs coming out of the ground in the spring. The people of Neah Bay sing this song at every community gathering. Like the frogs’ singing, it brings us together with a spirit of unity.
Looking closely at this design, you can see two faces sharing one mouth. This represents the concept of people agreeing on an idea. There are four other faces incorporated in the design, which add their own interpretation to the concept of the talking circle. New ideas keep our cultural moving. Change is the constant. We embrace the change as we move ahead in our society.