Project Description

Weeping Frog Mother Mask, by Gerry Sheena

There are variety stories about Frog. Many are about preventing loss – or gain wealth – as Frog is the symbol of fortune.  Frog’s penchant for singing and chirping leads to many myths about why it’s sounding off. Some believe Frog is the communicator between Mother Earth and mankind.

Frog is also often associated with the symbol of Volcano Woman. As her name implies, she controls Volcano activity.  Her nature is passionate, potentially vengeful and even violent, but only to protect (or wreck) her loved ones. Frog serves Volcano Woman – being her most precious ward. And she protects Frog as her child. And that’s what this next legend is about.

Raven prince and three of his friends are at Skeena River hunting for Salmon, when Frog jumps in their camp to visit. One of the men grabs Frog and throws him in the campfire, wanton gradually killing Frog. The men continue as if nothing happened, while Frog burns all night. During the following night the four men hear a voice of a woman, wailing and crying out: “Oh, my child. Give me back my child.” The next day, when they are fishing, they keep hearing this weeping woman’s voice: “What have you done to my child?”. Then the voice becomes menacing: “Give me back my child or you shall be destroyed!”.

The men ignored the weeping mother’s voice, but the voice follows them to their village. Also, nobody in the village pays any heed to the voice, except one old woman and her daughter. They prepare an underground shelter and every time they hear the Weeping Mother’s voice wailing, they flee underground (being ridiculed over this by the other people in the village).  Then one day, while the village is feasting, the weeping voice is followed by rumblings and smoke from the hills. The rumblings grow louder and louder. Finally smoke and fire sweeps down from the mountain peaks with many great thunder – claps and in a great engulfing torrent – Volcano erupts.

Now the terrified village people try to escape, but the flames have already consumed their canoes. Every avenue of retreat is cut-off, and all perish. Only the old woman and her daughter survive in their underground shelter. With her daughter the old woman travels afoot (and later they found a canoe) trying to find a new village.  While they were paddling up the same stream which the prince and his companions had followed, the old woman, looking into the water, sees Frog. It seems half human. As Frog swims away, the old woman hears: “Oh, my child! Oh, my child! We are at peace now that the haughty and proud ones are destroyed.” Thus, the old woman learns that the destruction of her people was an act of retaliation of Volcano Woman.

For us, it’s about taking jumps in/of life – connecting to surroundings but jumping (choosing) our own way. Sometimes our jumps feel harsh. We get a negative result, or we feel wronged (or ridiculed) by others. It makes you feel overwhelmed and maybe being proved right or even retaliation is on your mind. What’s your feeling after reading the Volcano Woman legend? We get the feeling everyone in the story loses…

To us, the symbolism of Volcano Woman weeping Frog tears, is a reminder of choice. We can choose to hold on to pain and try to fix this with being proved right or retaliation. Or we can choose to grieve our loss and move on.

We believe in letting go…and jumping forward again.

Specifications
Medium Sculpture
Year 2019
Dimension (h-w-d) 35 – 31 – 28 cm
Material Alder, abalone, horse hair
Serial number Original one of a kind hand carved
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About the artist

Gerry Sheena (1964) was born in Merritt, British Columbia, Canada. He is a member of the Interior Salish Nation which inhabits the southern region of the province of British Columbia. Gerry takes the Bear as his family crest symbol. Bear is one of the most prevalent family crest figures. It is symbolic of strength, motherhood, and a guardian figure.

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Carl Stromquist

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