Sculpture by Ross Matteson

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Salmon Pole Monument 

1994 by Ross Matteson   bronze    78 x 24 x 36 inches   edition size 10  

Salmon Pole Monument  is a tribute to the beautiful, sought after, and increasingly threatened salmon.    The unique intertwining identities covering this seven foot high, approximately 350 pound bronze casting, are all related to the salmon.   

The bear, osprey, orca, sea lion and man all rely in some degree on the success of the salmon in its natural environment.   This simple tribute is interpreted with deep reverence to the complex and refined art traditions of the original people who lived on the Pacific Northwest coast of North America.   These people and their descendants have had an economic, religious and artistic relationship with the salmon for many centuries.   In today's world however, changing values and sheer population pressures are seriously challenging these historically healthy relationships.

Salmon Pole is composed of precise and intentional line and form.   One example of this is the relationship between the cresting figure of the fish hawk and the killer whale.   The beak of the osprey doubles as the dorsal fin of the orca.   The talons of the osprey are also a water form above the tail of the orca.   The wings of the osprey are the eyes and body of the whale.  On the opposite side, the nose and teeth of the orca are the chest and belly of the joyful man -- and so on.

More than camouflage, these hidden forms and identities become very detectable once one learns the language of the art form.   In the Salmon Pole Monument, and it’s delineating little brother - the Salmon Pole Maquette, I use this language to explore ideas that I feel are both relevant and heartfelt.

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[photo credit: Ross Matteson]