The Unmasking of Rupert Scow

MOA was very fortunate to have the kind and extremely talented Rupert Scow working outside the MOA shop last week. Rupert not only spend two days carving and painting live for the MOA public, but he also took the time to answer questions with two of our summer workstudy students, Camille Esquivel and Ting Kelly.

In their interview, later to be released, Rupert speaks openly and directly about his artistic experience, the aboriginal community and his personal hope to keep both the community and the art-form connected. For example, Rupert does volunteer teaching with students at the Longhouse church located in Vancouver. It is a place designed to bridge the gap between aboriginal communities within the lower mainland, allowing them to connect and interact in one specific venue. This space also serves as a platform to sustain aboriginal culture.

Rupert stresses the importance of passing these traditions and art forms onto the younger generation so that these practices and cultures sustain over time. Rupert is interested in keeping the circulation of his work worldly and is inspired by the idea of having his art shared on a global level. He takes pride in forming a sense of union with other aboriginal communities and is dedicated to keeping both the practices and rituals of his works alive. Rupert puts his inspiration in own unique words and mentions the value of being able to visualize a particular project through the shape of the wood.

As he says you need to, “look into the wood”, you see the wood first, and then you start carving from there. Whenever he gets a new block of wood, he looks at the medium and attempts to see inside of it in order to figure out what that particular wood is going to become. In a sense, it is as though the wood itself has a voice of its own that speaks to Rupert during his creative process. Rupert acknowledges the distinct relationship between a particular art-form and the individual artist. He mentions that it doesn’t matter who teaches you how to carve, it almost always happens that regardless of your teacher that you will develop a personal style.

The carver will start to form their own style because the artist will perceive things in a different way than their teacher. For example, Scow has five brothers who at one time, were all taught by

Wayne Alfred and each one of his brother’s has a distinct artistic style. Rupert doesn’t think of his work as work, as he says, “it is in my blood…it’s great…it’s passion…it’s motivation, it’s like oh great what am I going to do today.” This statement resonates with the essence of what it means to be an artist and to do what you love.

For Rupert, his work is an art form of purposeful passion that embodies the freedom of trust, which allows him to express himself both openly and without restraint.

By Tara Chloe Dusanj