First nations carver Ivan Rosypskye arrived in Powell River when he was 10 years old. He has been working as an artist making drums, hats and totems for 15 years. Through his art and stories, he shares tales of the indigenous people of the coast.
What are you working on now?
It’s going to be a frog face for the new library. It’s going to have its tongue sticking out and by sticking its tongue out it’s telling a story. The library has a lot of stories, so it’s very fitting to have this design that represents sharing stories.
When did you start carving?
2001 was the year and I worked with Art Thompson. I was really lucky to come down from Alert Bay with some knowledge about the residential school my mother went to and our culture. I wanted to keep finding out more and wanted to start learning how to carve. Art happened to be in Sliammon carving a canoe and he was a well known, generous artist. He has passed away now.
Are you still learning?
Whenever there’s an artist in town, I’m there. I’m just going to hang out with them, talk to them and pick their brain because we don’t have too many artists who have that knowledge.
Do you feel it is your responsibility to pass your knowledge on?
I was taught to share my stories and share my knowledge just by hanging out with people and sitting and visiting. This is the best spot right here. They see my curtain up and I’m carving away or painting. They come in, sit down and we just talk. They just feel welcome.
Why do you enjoy working with young people?
What I’m doing now is huge because I’m teaching the kids at Brooks [Secondary School] how to carve a welcome figure. I have a connection with young people, I think, because of the stories, any kind of story. I have seen a lot and have a lot of stories to tell.