When: Friday, July 6th from 5:00-8:00pm
Renowned for his skill and dedication as a traditional carver, Robert Harju leads the official Tribal Carving Program for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. He is particularly busy right now with 14 paddles left to carve for this year’s Canoe Journey. One of Harju’s first canoes is on display at the Port of Kalama’s Interpretative Center. (He has also made three canoes for his own tribe.) Harju’s pieces personify the traditional practice of meaning-making within the art form, an important cultural value. His work for the tribe consists of carving mainly useful items and ceremonial gifts, but he also has his own thriving arts practice.
Harju humbly admits he’s been admired for his self-taught skills with a chainsaw, and by eye could always carve a perfect eagle out of a stump. Maybe it wasn’t completely by chance that he attended a conference at the Longhouse’s Indigenous Arts Campus many years ago. All the major carvers of the day were there. When he talks about it with such wonder in his voice, you can almost feel what he experienced as he tells you the stories he heard. Not long after that he was on some tribal land looking for firewood. Along the river bank as if delivered by providence – okay, it was actually a flood – lay a beautiful old growth log. Inspired by the old carver at that conference who had talked about just such an opportunity, with the crudest of tools, he began hacking away. Fortunately for his tribe as well as the rest of us, he hasn’t stopped carving since. He laughs when he talks about the stories he’s been told. “Carvers went into the woods in those days and hid until they finished what they needed. When they were carving nobody was worried about combing his hair.” This last he says with a wistful air, then adds, “but others would bring him food.”
Harju has promised to bring some of his smaller pieces – all will be for sale – and may include cedar boxes, cedar feathers, performance-related artworks, carved wooden hair combs, small necklaces and other jewelry pieces. Don’t miss the chance to meet him!
Where: Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, National Headquarters, The Academy, 400 E. Evergreen Blvd. #101B, Vancouver, WA
Parking & Access: Park anywhere around the building but for ACCESS walk south to the MAIN ENTRANCE front doors facing Evergreen Boulevard. We’ll be manning the doors.
Lost? Call 360-281-1615.