K'awat'si "Treasure Box" by William Wasden Jr.
26" x 20"
Edition of 160
"This K̓awat̓si design is comprised of stylized ovoids of my four most inspirational artists who have influenced my work to guide it to what it has become today. The top ovoid design comes from my great-great-grandfather, Chief T̓łaḵwudłas Ned Hiłamas Harris, the prime artist of the 'Na̱mg̱is or 'Nimpkish Valley Tribe'. The second design from the top is rendered in the style of the late great A̱wa'etła̱la 'Knight Inlet Tribe' Chief X̱ix̱aniyus Bob Harris—maternal grandfather of Chief Henry Speck. Ned and Bob were related and their styles similar so, in the process of giving our people English last names, these Harris families chose to take the same last name. The third ovoid down, is the work of the great Hiłdzakw artist Dukwa'esila Captain Carpenter. The foundation and base ovoid design is that of my late teacher 'Na̱mg̱is Chief Pa̱l'nakwa̱lagi̱lis Wakas Douglas Cranmer.
The Sax̱wsa̱m or 'ovoid' is the subject of this box design and is a study on the individual styles of these four gifted artists and the symbolism of their designs. In Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw art, when a supernatural creature had the ability to transform into human form, a human face or faces would be placed in strategic places on the artwork to display this ability. Sea creatures with this quality often included a fish-like face within the ovoids, whereas land beings and birds would show human faces within the ovoid design work. The incorporation of these ovoid fill designs are deliberate and serve to help tell the supernatural qualities of many ancestral beings through the artwork.
Many artists among the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw use a personal stylized ovoid design that is a signature to their artwork. It is amazing to study the artists of old and, through their art development, see the individual ovoid facial designs evolve. The ovoid facial designs are the signatures of the great artists of past and present."
- William Wasden Jr.