Evergreen to celebrate opening of Longhouse Carving Studio

$180,000 building could be resource for students and South Sound communities

lpemberton@theolympian.comFebruary 8, 2013 

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An event will be held today to celebrate new artwork and the official opening of The Evergreen State College Longhouse’s new Carving Studio.

Known as “Pay3q’ali” (pronounced pie-yuk-a-lee), the name of the building is a Salish word that translates into “a place to carve.”

The 800-square foot space will be used for carving classes and workshops, as well as community events, according to Laura Grabhorn, assistant director of the Longhouse.

No doubt it will become a place for tradition and stories; even its design tells a story.

“It was more along the lines of a traditional longhouse style — the houses we lived in before the settlers,” said Skokomish and Chehalis carver John E. Smith, who consulted on the building’s design. “But they had to use modern codes.”

No public funds were used to construct the $180,000 building, Grabhorn said.

“The studio was funded completely by the Ford Foundation,” she said. “It’s part of their program called diverse art spaces.”

Smith, 39, of Skokomish, helped create a pair of 12-foot-long sea serpent carvings that were installed this week, as part of the studio’s permanent art collection. Two Maori carvers from New Zealand also worked on the series.

“The one serpent is Salish and the other is Maori,” Smith said. “And the round that goes on the ceiling is both.”

The commercial fisherman was raised on the Makah reservation. He began carving when he was a kid.

“My great-grandpa was a carver,” he said. “My first project was a canoe. … It was probably about 2 feet long.”

The first class that’s expected to use the studio will be making box drums in April, Grabhorn said.

Smith said he thinks the studio will get plenty of use. In addition to Evergreen students, he envisions it will be a resource for South Sound tribes and community groups, too.

“It will be stocked and ready to carve anything from totem poles, canoes, bentwood boxes and paddles,” he said. “I think it accents the Longhouse and their whole program.”

IF YOU GO

The Evergreen State College Longhouse Carving Studio, called “Pay3q’ali,” will hold an open house from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. today. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include light refreshments.

The college is at 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia.

For more information, call 360-867-5344.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com theolympian.com/edblog

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