David Seven Deers spent 19 months chiseling away on a Labradorite stone to create Shining Raven Woman (David Seven Deers/Submitted)

David Seven Deers spent 19 months chiseling away on a Labradorite stone to create Shining Raven Woman (David Seven Deers/Submitted)

Sculpture to offer point of beauty at Grand Forks river junction

Feature about artist David Seven Deers

As David Seven Deers hacked away at a mound of grey-black stone, he unearthed stars.

Atop a steel table, reinforced to hold literal tonnes of weight, Shining Raven Woman Yamalot Heelah Shlahlee has revealed herself in Grand Forks.

When Seven Deers began whacking away at a chunk of Labradorite more than a year and a half ago, he says there was no full plan for what it would become. Though, he took hints whenever a chipped fleck from the stone would come flying to sting his face. Such a sign, he says, suggested he alter his approach. The aim from the beginning was simply “to work in beauty.” Now, the Salish-Halkomelem artist and a group of other Boundary locals are arranging to place the metre-tall sculpture of a blanketed woman, kneeling with a bowl of water bearing the crest of a shining raven, at the confluence of the the Kettle and Granby rivers in Grand Forks.

“The exhilarating waves of her resonant voice which lay silent in the stone since the beginning of time now speak loudly to every heart that will listen and every hand that will feel,” the group writes in their description of the project, which describes the story behind the sculpture, as well as the vision for its future.

Five years ago, Seven Deers gifted the Boundary community another sculpture. The Gateway Learning Circle at the Entwined Trees Park in Midway was created to link students across the district, from Big White to Christina Lake. In some ways, Shining Raven Woman offers a similar opportunity.

At her core, Seven Deers says, Shining Raven Woman bears hope, unity and beauty. Such a being, then, fits well at the confluence of two rivers which have repeatedly wrought their influence over the inhabitants of the Boundary, offering the region its reason for bounty and its occasions of blight over the years.

“The choice of location where the two rivers meet is deeply symbolic as well,” the group writes in its description of their hope for Shining Raven Woman. “When two rivers join they create an even more powerful life-giving force, and so it is with humankind: we can strengthen and nurture each other in our shared humanity.”

Staring up at her from below Seven Deers’ work table, a viewer first sees the sugar cube-sized black and iridescent crystals of the raw Labradorite, which have been shaped by the sculptor’s labour into a blanket that flows like waves from the woman’s calm-set shoulders. Crystals, which look like they could pop out of the rock with the slightest tap of a wrong-angled chisel, sit flush and gleaming in Shining Raven Woman’s headpiece, blanket, and even within the beak of of the white raven etched onto the bowl of water which she holds.

Seven Deers says that some aspects of Shining Raven Woman – the raw crystals that appear to connect her blanket to the earth and the thousands of fine lines only visible at very close range – are the way they are to remind people who see her that the stone was worked by human hands. It’s an appreciation he’s had for a long time.

In the 1990s, Seven Deers says he was called back from Europe, where he had lived for a couple decades, after developers in Chilliwack had torn up an old village site of his Nation. He came back to stand with kin and the RCMP at the local dump, beside piles and piles of oily dirt that had been excavated from the site to find traces of the village, unearthed.

The dirt was oily, Seven Deers says, because it had been enriched by the years and years of salmon harvests that were caught and cleaned at that spot on the Fraser River. He recalls sinking his hand into deep into one of the piles, dumped just next to household garbage. His fingers bumped into something solid in the mix. He dug further, wrapped his hand around the lump and hauled it from the dirt. Using a bit of spit and a shirt sleeve, he cleared off the gunk. The shiny, deep green stone gleamed. The jade was smooth, tapered to a point. Seven Deers had unearthed an old axe head. Hand-carved grooves revealed themselves, waiting for another handle.

The stone, sharpened to a point and without a chink in its surface, had the same fine lines that Seven Deers’ 10,000-grit sandpaper left on Shining Raven Woman. Signs of craft, signs of care. Reminders, lasting centuries, of the care someone took to shape a stone.

Shining Raven Woman, however, is not destined for the fate of that jade axe head. She’s being designed an earth lodge, to be lined with the same stars that emanate from her now. She’s not in a rush to get to the river bank either. First, Seven Deers has plans to tour Europe with her and his son, revisiting the people and places that have been affected by his previous works, sharing the story of the sculpture.

It may be a bit yet until people can meet Shining Raven Woman at the the rivers’ junction, given the city’s plan to install dikes along the downtown edges of the Granby and Kettle. In the meantime, Seven Deers and the group will be raising support for the sculpture and sharing the vision. Shining Raven Woman’s home will need to be cared for in perpetuity by the community, as she in turn offers a touch of hope and provides a point of beauty and unity.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Using finer and finer tools as he works, David Seven Deers reveals great detail as he smooths and shapes the stone. (David Seven Deers/Submitted)

Using finer and finer tools as he works, David Seven Deers reveals great detail as he smooths and shapes the stone. (David Seven Deers/Submitted)

Shining Raven Woman, seen here early on in the sculpting process, kneels under a metal roof and illuminated with bright lights. (David Seven Deers/Submitted)

Shining Raven Woman, seen here early on in the sculpting process, kneels under a metal roof and illuminated with bright lights. (David Seven Deers/Submitted)

David Seven Deers’ sturdy work table proves a good standing place for the initial chisel strokes. (David Seven Deers/Submitted)

David Seven Deers’ sturdy work table proves a good standing place for the initial chisel strokes. (David Seven Deers/Submitted)

Just Posted

Rossland council encourages everyone to support locals only recommendations. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Rossland council promotes ‘Locals Only’ inititative

Rossland mayor encourages people to restrict travel and enjoy what your home has to offer

Caroline Lafond is a Recreation Fish and Wildlife student at Selkirk College. Photo: Submitted
Ecological Comment: Help keep the goats of Gimli wild

A column written by Recreation Fish and Wildlife students at Selkirk College

Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union president Andy Davidoff. Photo: Jennifer Small
An open letter to Premier Horgan and Minister Whiteside: Let’s stop harming our children during a pandemic

A letter from Andrew Davidoff, President Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Most Read