Frog Constellation: A Love Story

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

“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.

Frog Constellation

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

Frog Constellation

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

Frog Constellation

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

 

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.

 

12 thoughts on “Frog Constellation: A Love Story

  1. How very interesting! I suppose this is in Vancouver? I hope to return to Bellingham in the Fall, and then on to Vancouver for a lengthier visit than our first. I will have to have Lara read this—I will post it on my FB page. I love First Nations art! What fascinates me is their geometric approach to art, as opposed to European art which is in such stark contrast. Each culture lends its own beauty to our world! But I do prefer First Nations!

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    • I agree, each culture lends it own beauty to our world. I think that you would be very interested in this video of James Hart which highlights his work when he was at the Vancouver Art Gallery. What I found most remarkable was how the Haida viewed language. It was in terms of pictures not symbols and scratches that are on paper. I am trying to find out where “The Dance Screen” is located. I missed the exhibit, so now I’m on the trail to find out where it is. You probably already know this – bring an umbrella when you come to Vancouver!! We love our liquid sunshine.

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    • Thank you, Paulette. I’ve really enjoyed my forays into mythology, which has given me great insight into how we are connected to the earth and all of its inhabitants. The gulf between humanity and other “animals” that has been axiomatic in our modern world seems to be missing in many mythologies. We need to go back, to embrace what we once understood. What you are doing is a stellar example of how we can reconnect.

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  2. What a fabulous piece. It blows me away, especially seeing your photo from a ways away. I love native art. I have a lovely marble carving from my retreat time in BC, Canada in 2002. I was trying to read the inscription and see 1999, C ?SEU[w?], NFLD, NI[sm. O with ellipse over it?]CMH?C TRIBE. He only works in solid marble and my sculpture is in pink marble, weighs a ton and is symbolic of the eagle carrying humans across the sea of samsaric suffering. It is beautiful, incredibly detailed, especially the feathers and faces of both the eagle and the people he is saving. It’s deeply meaningful to me. It’s about 18″ long. Can you tell me anything more about him [the artist] by this. I cannot make it out clearly without rubbing something into his marks and don’t want to do that. Of course, I’ve misplaced the stuff from the gallery.😦

    Anyway when I was up there seeing the art all over by the Native Americans was so amazing. The totem poles were fascinating and I loved everything that was huge, as many were!

    Love to you😉

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  3. I like your frog story and its implications, which sort of answers and explains two old issues of mine (says I tongue in cheek) on the subject I lived with thru my early years; one being one of three francophone in an English language school in a sea of Anglos, I was referred to as French frog, puddle jumper etc, and two my sister marrying an Earl Shaw, plus the Scot and its connection to the frog in your article.

    Scots, as in Earl as well, seem to have an affinity with francophone ladies of Québec, including Earl’s father marrying a French lady from Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a collectivity of France, in the northwestern Atlantic.

    These Scots, they are a stubborn people, who were the shakers and movers of our economy in early Canada’s Montréal and elsewhere. And judging by the beauty of the woodcarvings by Master Carver James Hart, to which you have introduced us on this post, no surprise, these Scots were and are a winning people.

    Thanks Rebecca, I envy your visits to SMU…

    Jean-Jacques

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    • Thank you for your marvelous comments!! My Scottish background thanks you! You must come to Vancouver. Right now I’m at SFU – the sun is shining and it’s a perfect time to visit my dear ‘Frog Constellation”. – come join me.

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  4. Hey Rebecca, here are a few lines from one of my poems ‘I The Frog’ I had meant to include in my response to your Frog Constellation: A Love Story…

    I am the frog

    Who basks,

    With delight

    In the noonday sun,

    Or on hot nights

    Croak ridit ridit,

    In the pale moon light…

    Jean-Jacques

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  5. I have a new appreciation for Native Art. How impressive are the two frogs in the hands and all the detail. What amazing talent! I also love “I The Frog”! It would be interesting to read some of this gentleman’s other poetry.

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