This is a hand-carved yellow cedar Paddle by Cree and adopted Nuu-chah-nulth artist Joshua Prescott. This paddle is deeply carved on both sides with two elaborate designs featuring Nuu-chah-nulth aesthetic elements inspired by the beauty of the natural world and Joshua's encounters with the animals, creatures, and beings within it. Joshua's playful design pays homage to Thunderbird, Seal, Bluejay, Wolf, Mouse, Raven, Lightning Snake, Bear and the lesser-known Red Turban Snail (one of the primary sources of operculum shells on the Northwest Coast). One side is painted in red and black acrylic and the reverse in red, dark blue, and black acrylic. The paddle is about 60.5 inches or 5 feet in length.
"The inspiration for this paddle came from nature, all the beautiful creatures, colors, patterns, and the images. My children's great, great grandparents have had an enormous impact on me, thus my artwork. I remember Stanley and Sidney teaching me their language and talking about art. They would tell me things, our art tells stories. This I believe was when I started using more creatures, multiple creatures. It is fun designing, making all the animals fit together in a way that flows and fills the space. I do double-sided paddles so that I am using the space on both sides to practice and grow. I have seen old paddles with both sides adorned. Design is a language. I believe we are physical beings. We are always receiving and giving off energy. Energy is a language, energy never lies. Art is spiritual.
Looking back on these pieces I can recognize my own growth as an artist. For the past ten years, I have been learning to speak my children's language nuuchahnulth; I consider it my language now. The elders I have worked with over the years always accepted me. They say ours instead of mine. I have been learning to tell what we call himwica stories. These are stories that teach and grow the mind. For the past four years, I have desired to connect my artwork with storytelling. I am now able to tell stories in nuchahnulth. This is the direction of my life now to become as fluent in nuuchahnulth as I can and to pass on what I know before I die. People see art work, but there is much more. To share a piece of nuuchahnulth wisdom hishukish cawaak 'everything is one, everything is interconnected'."