Namugwis (the first one from above on the beach)
For Potlatch 67-67 I created a piece based on my families first ancestor and origin story. Namugwis came down from the sky and was the first to inhabit the village of Wika’wa’ya’as, present day known as Stories Beach near Fort Rupert. Namugwis means the first one, from above, on the beach. I wanted to create a piece that contributes to cultural practices that are still happening today. It was masks, blankets and other regalia, like this creation that were taken during the potlatch ban; regalia that tells family history and can date back to when our first ancestors inhabitants the land. If my piece was danced then it would not be shown publicly unless in ceremony/potlatch; it would be wrapped in a blanket and be kept safely away.
The Potlatch made it so my Great grandparents and my Grandma were not able to practice their culture. When they did practice their culture, it was in secret; If they were caught practicing their culture publicly they faced imprisonment. This went on for 67 years from 1884 to 1951. The Potlatch was not just songs and dances, it was a way of life, it was the very thing that made them indigenous. I chose to create this piece to show how times have changed and to celebrate who we are.
My name is Karver Everson I was born in Comox, BC in 1993 and named Gayustistalas – a name that once belonged to my father, Chief Rob Everson and before him belonged to my great uncle Bob Wilson, both of the Gigalgam Walas Kwakiutl.
I think for many people it is hard to define where they come from, I am fortunate enough to have a direct link that connects me to the first peoples of Vancouver island. A link that is time immemorial, and runs deep through my veins. For me that rich Kwakwaka’wakw and K’omoks history is what inspires me to make the art I do.
When I design, paint, carve and create I tell the stories of my ancestors and myself. Through the art form I connect to my ancestors and the legacy they fought to preserve. Although my culture is still here and thriving, its existence is threatened by the rapidly changing world. Through my art I attempt to connect both the present with the past and further understand my place within time and cultural history. In doing so shining light on an ancient world that once was and the world that surrounds us today.
I have been blessed by the mentors in my life. Working under the tutelage of Kwakwaka’wakw master carvers Richard Hunt, Calvin Hunt and David Knox. My uncle, Andy Everson, has also taught me to understand multiple facets of Northwest Coast art including rules of form-line and design. I am grateful to have these teachers in my life, as they have contributed so much to Kwakwaka’wakw and K’omoks culture.
Karver Everson is a K’ómoks carver and visual/performance artist. He was born in Comox, BC in 1993 and named Gayustistalas – a name that once belonged to his father, Chief Rob Everson of the Gigal’gam Walas Kwagut from the Kwakwaka’wakw People. Influenced greatly by his family’s connection to their cultural heritage, Karver has always been eager to learn and uphold the cultural traditions of both his K’ómoks and Kwakwaka’wakw ancestors.
Karver’s passion for art began early in life and First Nations art forms made appearances in his drawings and pieces throughout his childhood and youth. It was when Karver decided to further his skills at art school that his First Nations paintings and drawings flourished.
As an artist in the early stages of his life and career, Karver’s history as a carver is relatively recent. In the summer of 2013, Karver’s family was preparing to host a potlatch and Karver was called on to create many ceremonial pieces for the family. He’s been carving almost every day since.
Karver has worked under the tutelage of Kwakwaka’wakw master carvers Richard Hunt, Calvin Hunt, Mervyn Child and David Knox. His uncle, Andy Everson, has also taught him to understand multiple facets of Northwest Coast art including rules of formline and design.
Karver has completed his Diploma of Fine Arts from North Island College. He is currently working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria.
In 2014 the K’ómoks First Nation began a project that commissions K’ómoks artists to create two totem poles every year for 10 years at locations that will cumulatively map the expansive territory of the K’ómoks people. The poles are intended as a form of reclamation of cultural identity, land, Aboriginal rights and title. It is through this project that Karver began carving poles, in collaboration with his mentors Randy Frank and Calvin Hunt. His first two poles depict a satiated figure holding his/her belly, expressing a sense of abundance and a sense that there is enough for everyone. One of these poles is installed on the edge of a military training facility next to a sign that states “no trespassing,” in an area that was once a sacred burial ground for high ranking First Nations people.