"Family"

An Original Design by

Lou-Ann Neel

© 2004

“Family” depicts the balance that is created amongst all families when we embrace, acknowledge and share the rich traditions and sacred teachings that our respective cultures provide for us.

The Cedar Rope that surrounds the Family represents the connection that Mother, Father and Children have to Nature. Here, the Cedar Rope flows, transforms and emerges as the sacred Tree of Life, which provides for the fundamental needs of the Family – planks to build their home; bark to create their clothing and hats; wood to create bentwood boxes, feast dishes, utensils, and other important utilitarian items.

Within their respective Robes of Power, three abstracts of mythological beings are presented to show the Family’s connection to, and respect for, the creatures of Nature:

  • Raven (Father’s blanket) represents creatures of the Sky Kingdom;
  • Killerwhale (Mother’s blanket) represents creatures of the Kingdom Beneath the Sea; and
  • Supernatural Sculpin (Child’s blanket) represents the creatures of the Spirit World.

The Family, Tree of Life, Cedar Rope, and Three Beings are all connected – as are each of us -- as individuals, as families, as communities, and as Nations.

Lou-ann Neel

Artist’s Biography

My everyday English name is Lou-ann Neel. My Kwakwala potlatch names are K’idi-kle’logw, Îkya’w e ga, and Ga’astalas. The name K’idi-kle’logw comes from my mother’s side of the family through our Mamalillikulla, lineage; I am told that this name belonged to my grandfather’s great aunt. The name Îkya’w ê ga comes from my father’s side of the family (Kwagiulth), and the name and Ga’astalas came from my Uncle Bob Neel’s mother-in-law, Lily Speck.

I have been creating original designs since age 14, when I was introduced to formal Kwakwaka'wakw design by Kwagiulth/Mowachat artist, George Hunt Jr., during a Native Art course at S.J.Willis Junior Secondary School in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Since that time, I have continued to study on my own, and have been fortunate to receive further inspiration from my brother, Kevin Cranmer, and from the legendary work of my grandmother, Ellen Neel. I have also been fortunate to have received ongoing support and guidance from numerous other Kwakw ak a'wakw artists in Victoria, Fort Rupert and Alert Bay.

My range of work includes two-dimensional, flat design (original paintings, limited edition prints); textiles (traditional regalia, contemporary clothing); mixed media (fabric, metals); and most recently, silver engraving (jewelry, regalia embellishments).

After practicing our traditional arts for more than 30 years, I decided to return to school to add to my artistic experience, and am now enrolled in full time arts studies at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. One of my first ventures as a full time student was to set up two online shops to feature my design work. Check them out at: www.cafepress.com/potlatchgifts and www.zazzle.com/nativedesigngifts.