Miyíw̓ts - Water's Edge

Background

In August 2019, an open call to Indigenous artists and/or artist teams was developed and released for təməsew̓txʷ, a new aquatic and community centre. Through a two-stage selection process, five artists/teams were shortlisted and invited to develop concept proposals. A Selection Panel comprised of an Indigenous community member, an Indigenous arts professional and a member of the Public Art Advisory Committee, along with project advisors, evaluated all submissions and awarded the commission to James Harry, a Vancouver-based Coast Salish artist from the Squamish Nation.

About the Artwork

Miyíw̓ts - Water's Edge is a 16ft mirror polished stainless steel sculpture that reflects the strength and power of the site's former Glenbrook Ravine while referencing Coast Salish design motifs and presence on these lands. Gold leaf has been intricately applied to the inner recessions bringing warmth, depth and movement to the work. The sculpture rests on top of a Cor-ten steel inlay designed in the shape of the Coast Salish eye.

"In the creation of this work, I am engaging with the visual language that is intrinsic to the Coast Salish peoples. The recessed contours, accentuated with the application of gold leaf, echo one of the principal forms found in Salish design. This act of ‘deconstructing’ these shapes is a deliberate choice to reverberate the undulating form of the ravine, serving as a metaphor for the Indigenous families whose histories are deeply rooted in this land. My intent is to forge a sculpture that embodies movement, spatial complexity, depth, delineation, and surface, inviting a dialogue for new understandings."

- James Harry 

ABOUT THE ARTIST

James Harry, born in 1989 in Vancouver, British Columbia, has woven a remarkable artistic tapestry that blends tradition and innovation. From a young age, he immersed himself in the arts, guided by his father Xwalacktun—a pivotal figure in shaping his creative journey. Under the guidance of a master carver specializing in traditional yellow and red cedar carving, James deeply connected to First Nations art and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw culture.

Graduating from Emily Carr University of Art & Design in 2014 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, James embarked on a professional artistic career. His monumental public art installations have left an indelible mark both nationally and internationally. Notably, his works grace Vancouver’s streets, including iconic pieces downtown. Additionally, the powerful installation at Squamish Oceanfront’s Sp’akw’us Feather Park’ reflects James’s commitment to fostering change and understanding within the Coast Salish community.

Through monolithic forms, he bridges the past and present, celebrating Coast Salish heritage. His legacy resonates far beyond British Columbia, inspiring us all to connect with Indigenous traditions and embrace their profound understandings.

More about the Artist

See press release here.

A short documentary film is underway. See chapter 1 and learn about the artist and how the concept was developed.

Image credit: Miyíw̓ts - Water's Edge, 2024 by James Harry

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James Harry
Neighbourhood:
Glenbrooke North
Installation year:
2024
Status:
Permanent
Type:
Installation, Sculpture
Primary materials:
stainless steel, gold leaf, Cor-ten
Address:
65 E Sixth Ave, New Westminster, BC V3L 4G6