Celebrating the Eel River Salmon Run
There is an annual celebration of renewal. The start is signaled by the first rains of Autumn, when the rivers swell and the salmon return for their last swim to begin a new cycle.
This show of work is product of a combination of interests; my involvement in the revival of the Eel River watershed, teaching a combination of art and ecology to children and my long running interest in screen printing. It has offered a challenge for me to change my studio routine into a fluid experiment that is open to incorporate all the various fishes that swim my way.
As of today, I have offered eight workshops to about 140 children who resided in the Eel River Watershed. They combines an art project; drawing and screen printing, watershed dynamic, salmon biology and restoration, focused on last years productive chinook salmon run. The workshop is designed for 8-20 students taking place for 1 to 1.5 hours in two sessions. While watching projected images of salmon swimming the student produced several brush drawings. They then produce stencils based on their drawing of salmon. Each print a set of commemorative flags using all the stencils to decorate their homes with a reminder of the renewal taking place in the river.
There is a frenetic energy that takes over when the ink comes out. The kids learn the process of printing while trying to design their work with all their friends’ stencils involved. A naive quality in the drawing of even the simplest of marks takes on the meaning of swimming fish.
A gathering was held in the summer of 2010 to revive a first people’s tradition, a dance to give thanks and homage to the salmon.
A fire was lit,
directions were noted,
a circle of young dancers with the beat of elders’ drums.
We touched the water.
Join this celebration. Visit the river and greet the salmon. Resolve to help improve the health of the watershed.
Michael Guerriero — April, 2012