The work of a well-known Indigenous artist has been on display outside Lantzville district hall since late last year.
Leslie Robert Sam, who goes by the decolonized artist name ‘LessLIE’ as a statement on the deceit that First Nations people suffered because of colonization, is a Coast Salish (Penelakut/Quw’utsun) artist who was commissioned by the district to create a spindle whorl for the municipal offices.
“I wanted to create something that would simultaneously reflect the history of Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As,” the artist said. “Through the design, it’s intended to evoke landscape, the sun, the hills, sand dollars.”
As part of the design aspect, he chose the spindle whorl to represent Snaw-Naw-As, and the material of the work as rusted metal to represent Lantzville’s mining history.
Through his art practice, he looks for his work to reflect his culture as it once was and not as it currently is, and in doing so, tends to avoid spindle whorl designs, but will occasionally use the design motif and icon to symbolize the history of the Coast Salish People.
The artist holds a bachelor of arts degree in First Nations studies from Malaspina University-College. While he studied historical artifacts during his academic pursuits, he also studied the work of his contemporaries who shared their knowledge and practices with him. He is looking to resume working toward a master of arts degree through the University of Victoria.
His work can be found in the Canadian Embassy in London, England, part of the permanent collection in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and elsewhere.
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