On a beautiful afternoon in late March 2022, Impact Salish Sea Elementary School proudly celebrated Brian Perry’s art installation – a set of traditional Cast Salish carvings entitled “Remember the Teachings.” The work is a suite of three works that include a prominent welcome pole flanked by two canoe-forms that act as benches. Brian was selected to develop an original public artwork for the school which is located at Othello Square in South Seattle. He is a member of the S’Klallam tribe and a representative of the Coast Salish people.
The event was co-sponsored by WCSD and Impact Public Schools and brought students along with members of the S’Klallam tribe and the Othello community to a joyous celebration. WCSD senior project manager, Anna Johnson, emceed, Principal Egypt Burton Charles welcomed everyone, Brian’s tribal family honored the day with traditional performances, and Brian spoke about the artwork.
“Remember the Teachings” depicts creatures of the Salish Sea that serve as precious knowledge keepers for her people. The primary welcome pole is titled “Guardians of the Salish Sea” and features q̕ɬúməčən (killer whale), sčánnəxʷ (salmon), and k̕ʷə́yŋsən (eagle). The salmon represents endurance and renewal. The salmon weathers many perils at sea to return to its home waters and provide nourishment for the people. Overlooking the creatures of the Salish Sea is the eagle, who embodies wisdom. The eagle gazes far to the horizon, where new challenges and opportunities await. And the killer whale centers this post, carrying the faces of the ancestors on its back.
Following the ceremony, everyone gathered outside to view the artwork. Students and guests enjoyed the story pole and welcomed the artwork as part of their community. Thank you to Brian for bringing the stories of the Salish Sea creatures to the school and local community.