Pollution, ocean acidification, climate change, and over-fishing conspire to unravel the ecological functioning of the world's river basins, in effect destroying the very systems that gather and convey freshwater for life. Artist Raven Skyriver, born in the San Juan Islands in Northwest Washington, has seen the effects on Puget Sound and wider Salish Sea first hand. “The health of the rivers is the health of our Sound; its health is the health of our watershed. All water systems are connected, and if one is threatened and compromised, so are they all.”
The ecological status of our world’s seas and rivers leaves Skyriver heartsick but determined to resurrect their health through education. In September 2017, the artist returned to Stonington Gallery, Seattle, Washington, for an exhibition of threatened creatures of the tides. Skyriver’s sculptures bring us face to face with the mystery and magic of species rarely seen, inspiring viewers to form personal relationships to wildlife. “Once that relationship is formed, people empathize more deeply, keep them in mind, and care about their health and their future.”
Skyriver’s subjects are not only indigenous to the Pacific Northwest but important characters in Tlingit mythology. Clam, whale, and the iconic salmon reflect reverence not only for the artist’s local ecosystem, but for his native traditions in the arts. Growing up on Lopez Island, playing in the woods, fishing the surrounds, and being in regular communication with nature, all imbue Skyriver’s work with true meaning and power.
Though he has given workshops at Pilchuck, Pratt, and the Corning Museum of Glass among others, Skyriver presented his first workshop at Penland School of Crafts, in Bakersfield, North Carolina, from April 22 – 28. In 2018, he and wife Kelly O’Dell will continue building their new hot shop on Lopez Island. In June, Skyriver will blow glass in a private studio near Cannes, France; from September 9-14, he will teach in Bornholm, Denmark, at the Royal Danish Academy of the Arts in an event open to the general public. From October 4 – 7, Skyriver will demo at the International Glass Symposium in Novy Bor, Czech Republic.