Laura Wee Láy Láq

Gallery of Tribal Art, Vancouver
December 6 - 20

Olla (1997),
ceramic sculpture

ORIGINALLY INSPIRED by Burnaby teacher Joe Varro in her high school art classes, Laura Wee Láy Láq today is a highly-skilled potter whose work is shown in New York, Santa Fe, Hong Kong and Honolulu.

For 20 years, Wee Láy Láq has brought to her gorgeous, simple vessels a Salish and Kwakwaka'wakw artistic heritage and the culmination of knowledge and experience gained by studying the work of indigenous people's pottery around the world. For example, she adopted the hand-building techniques used by the Mexican and Pueblo potters, and uses smooth stones to burnish or polish the hardening clay until it is dense and glowing. The pieces are packed in brick boxes packed with sawdust before firing. As they smoulder in the kiln for long periods of time, many develop oily lustres on the blackening surfaces.

Although they are made by hand, Wee Láy Láq's pieces appear perfectly smooth, symmetrical and balanced. They reflect the time and love she puts into them, and the steadiness with which she works. As she once put it, "They come out, they are me, they are like children. This is the closest you'll get to me."

© Mia Johnson