Some 65 people showed up in the cold and rain to celebrate the dedication of two towering cedar carvings by Native American artist Andrea Wilbur-Sigo last Saturday.
The art pieces were commissioned in 2020 by the City of Olympia as part of its plan to install public art at eight major gateways throughout the city.
The wood carvings are installed along Eastside Street near the entrance to the Karen Fraser Woodland Trail. Named “People of the Water” and “Tree People,” each 10-foot tall carving is reminiscent of house posts that stood in front of Native American longhouse dwellings that once covered the shores of the Salish Sea.
Wilbur-Sigo is a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe, which inhabited the land now called Olympia. “This piece happens to be where I’m from,” Wilbur-Sigo said at the ceremony for the unveiling of her work. “My family has looked forward to this day. They looked forward to the day that all these pieces will stand on our land, that our families are from, and our kids get to see on a daily basis.”
Wilbur-Sigo was selected to be one of the artists who would bring the art crossings project to life in July 2020.
Based in Shelton, Wilbur-Sigo has 25 years of experience as a woodcarver and descends from a line of woodcarvers.
“It’s easy to just get through your normal day and just be in the moment doing your thing, but things like this are a reminder,” Squaxin Island tribe chairman Kris Peters said at the dedication ceremony.
“I see that [artwork] and every time I drive by that, it’s going to put a smile on my face. It’s going to fill my soul and my heart with joy. The reason being is because it’s gonna remind me of who I am, it’s gonna remind me of my ancestors. The glory of this is, we’re standing on land that our ancestors stood on. That is truly, truly a wonderful thing,” he said.
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