“The frog is quite powerful in our thinking. It’s one of the creatures that can go in two worlds, in the water and in the upper world, our world. . . The frog is one of my family crests, but I don’t know the family story, how that came to be one of our crests.”
James Hart, Haida Master Carver
On Sundays, the corridors of Simon Fraser University are quiet, as if at rest before the commotion of student activity that accompanies the coming of Monday mornings. Within this momentary pause, I take the opportunity to visit the Frog Constellation that is situated in Saywell Hall, by the SFU First Nations Student Centre. I have been there many times over the years since its installation and have come to sense a silent companionship with the sculpture. The Frog Constellation tells a love story that begins when a young man cannot find his love, only to learn that the frog king has whisked her away to his domain. A wise old man gives him the knowledge of where to dig in the earth. Millions of frogs come from the young man’s excavation, the last one being the frog king that carries his love back to him.
Within the themes of loss and recovery, it is the search that resonates within me. It is the wisdom of age combined with the strength of youth that brings about resolution.
James Hart is a master carver who apprenticed with the late Bill Reid. He bears the Haida name, “7idansuu” [ee-dan-soo], as hereditary chief of the Statas Eagle Clan.