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The Rivers that Connect Us

Preliminary design for The Rivers that Connect Us by  kʼwyʼiʼyʼe Spring Salmon Studio

Artists: kʼwyʼiʼyʼe Spring Salmon Studio (Drew Atkins, Phyllis Atkins, and Aaron Jordan)
Location: Museum of Surrey (17710 56A Avenue)
Category: Public
Year Installed: 2019

About The Rivers that Connect Us

In this sculpture, four monumental paddles will stand at 5 metres. They will encircle a 3.5 metre round medallion base with a design inspired by the traditional form of a Coast Salish spindle whorl. The upright paddles are poised in a traditional welcoming gesture, honouring the diversity and inclusiveness of newcomers to Surrey and the traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples. Four paddles represent the four races of people as well as the four directions.

The form of a Coast Salish eye will be seen on the paddle blades. The designs in the medallion represent the seven traditional teachings of the Coast Salish peoples: health, happiness, generations, humility, forgiveness, understanding, and teaching.

By having the paddles installed in a circular arrangement, the artwork’s design also echoes the rounded architectural form of the original Museum of Surrey building.

The paddles will be fabricated from aluminum and polycarbonate and feature interior and exterior lighting. The medallion will be made from coloured concrete and will have brass insets for the design elements.

About the Artists

Drew Atkins

Drew Atkins (Nəq̓ɑɬc̓i) is a member of the Kwantlen First Nation community by marriage to his wife and fellow artist, Phyllis Atkins (q̓ʷɑt̓ic̓ɑ’s). He works in many mediums including painting, drawing, carving, and sculpture. He was trained in the Coast Salish carving tradition while apprenticing with his dear friend and mentor Xwa-lack-tun (Rick Harry). Atkins owns and operates K’wy’iye’ Spring Salmon Studio and Gallery in unceded Fort Langley, BC with Phyllis Atkins.

His other public artworks for the City of Surrey include Returning to the River and Retro-Perspective.

Phyllis Atkins

Phyllis (Qwoy’tic’a) Atkins is an artist of the Kwantlen First Nation whose name means “I wear the clouds like a blanket” or “Shrouded in clouds.” Her name comes from the Nɬeʔkepmx language and it was given to her by her maternal grandfather Hereditary Chief Anthony Joe of the Shakan Band (Thompson River People). Phyllis is also part Sto:lo (People of the river). Phyllis has taken oil painting lessons from Barbara Boldt and hand-carved silver jewelry lessons by Master Carver Derek Wilson. She is a renowned painter and jeweler at their home on Kwantlen First Nation in Fort Langley.

Her other public artworks for the City of Surrey include Paddling through the Waves of Change, Returning to the River, We Are All Connected to this Land, and Courage, Strength, and Family.

Aaron Jordan

Aaron Jordan grew up surrounded by artists and craftsmen of all mediums. Working for a few years in art galleries and museums led Aaron to attend Langara College to study fine arts. He went on to discover the world of film and was swept up by the creativity and diversity of the industry while working as a sculptor and carpenter building sets and props.