Alvin Balkind Gallery
For more than twenty years, Sesemiya (Tracy Williams) has been engaged with the revitalization of Coast Salish cultural practices. Through research, collaborative experimentation and consultation with Knowledge Keepers, Sesemiya’s work embodies her deep knowledge of Coast Salish lands. A fifth-generation cedar weaver, the objects she makes extend directly from her practice of gathering and preparing wild materials.
Sesemiya presents at the Contemporary Art Gallery s7ulh waḵáy̓stn iy ta stamsh cht (Our Weapons and Warriors), a new body of work that sees the artist engaging the theme of land defence. Employing materials such as cedar slats and roots, fishskin leather, animal bones, and synthetic human skin, the exhibition alludes to the figure of a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh warrior in traditional accoutrement, armed with tools for battle. While the tools Sesemiya has recreated are anachronistic in nature, the project of cultural revitalization they result from is vitally urgent. s7ulh waḵáy̓stn iy ta stamsh cht proposes traditional ways of living, knowing, and being with the land to themselves be acts of resistance to the ongoing colonial occupation of unsurrendered Sḵwx̱wú7mesh lands, in the artist’s words, “inspiring the future generations of stelmexw to tl’a7ashen ta nexwniẁ-chet (celebrate our teachings that make us who we are).”
Sesemiya (Tracy Williams) is a knowledge seeker, dreamer, water protector, land defender, lover, mother, auntie, weaver, and cultural practitioner. Her rich relationships with plants, animals, land, and water have taken her to the tops of mountains, the bottom of the ocean, fields of fireweed, and occasionally art galleries. Her work has appeared in exhibitions such as lineages and land bases, Vancouver Art Gallery (2020); Intangible: Memory and Innovation in Coast Salish Art, Bill Reid Gallery (2017); and N. Vancouver, The Polygon Gallery (2017). In 2021, a commissioned work of Sesemiya’s was included in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s presentation of Yoko Ono’s Water Event. Sesemiya is a proud member of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nation.