Lummi Nation artists Jason LaClair and Yolanda Felix-Wilbur have completed two new murals on the west side of the Pioneer Park Pavilion in Ferndale. With support from the Ferndale Arts Commission and in collaboration with the Lhaq’temish Foundation, the murals pay tribute to the history of the city and Lummi Nation. “You cannot tell the history of Ferndale without beginning with the Lummi Nation and what better place for that than Pioneer Park?” Ferndale Mayor Greg Hansen said in a news release. LaClair’s piece, titled “One From the Heart,” features two eagles facing each other in the shape of a heart in a traditional Coast Salish style. It represents mutual care within the community during the COVID pandemic, the 38-year-old artist said in a video published by the city.
“As people that normally gather or visit with one another, we actually have to keep our distance to show our love for each other,” he said. Felix-Wilbur’s piece tells the story of the Lummi Nation, its canoe journey and the tradition of the potlatch. It reads through symbolism on two canoes from right to left, she explained.
“Jason LaClair has done a wonderful job of this heart and the two eagles representing the eternal love of our way of life. That is a beautiful, symbolic gesture of the love we have for our people and our community as is the beautiful canoe journey by Yolanda Felix,” said Candice Wilson, a Lummi Nation member and executive director of the Lhaq’temish Foundation, in the video. “That one represents our way of life, our teachings and our traditions about the potlatch and how we come together and celebrate one another through this wonderful event called the canoe journey.”
The Ferndale Arts Commission’s Downtown Mural Project previously installed 12 murals. Since 2018, a variety of artists and volunteers put together the pieces. Collaborating with Coast Salish artists was a goal of the commission for years, said Rebecca Xczar, chairperson of the Ferndale Arts Commission. This year, the commission decided to make it their flagship project. A third mural is planned for the summer of 2022. The full mural project is expected to be completed next summer. “Having this type of art in our community as part of our Downtown Mural Project is important to represent all of our community members,” Xczar said.