These figures spring from their history, shedding an old skin and metamorphosing into their dream self. This aspect of ourselves is much less tangible than our genealogy; it is the identity we fashion through this ancient dust, the core we meet in the mirror. The self that is much deeper than the colour of our skin. The one we dare not speak, our heart’s desire, our secret hopes, our sacred place. This is the one to be honoured now, back to the source where all tribes meet.
This piece is from a series of figurative sculptures entitled Tribes that deal with the motion of mixed ethnic backgrounds. All of the decorative detailing and colours in the work are representative of some aspect of their lives such as their cultural heritage and personal history.
The mother, whose work involves aiding people with communication, has always had a passion for language and art. The yoke of her dress depicts a typical embroidery sampler from the turn of the century representing her German and Italian ancestry. Her face is partly covered by a Venetian carnival mask and in her hand she holds her favorite instrument, the violin
The father who was born at Vancouver General Hospital, was raised in Hong Kong until age 10. His subsequent return to Canada is shown through the map on his back. The chopsticks in his hand and the rice embedded in his arm portray his family’s enthusiasm for the culinary arts. Other details refer to his first career as a geologist where he was the sole survivor of a helicopter crash. He is now a school teacher and is an avid storyteller.
The drum on the father’s back symbolizes the child, who by age two was enthralled with percussion and music. He is representative of a generation of young Canadians of mixed heritage who will hopefully be free to celebrate their diversity and value of the richness of their cultural identity.
Family Mosaic by Nicole Dextras donated by the artist in 2003 to VGH & UBC Foundation. The art work and transcript are on display at Vancouver General Hospital.