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Sea to Sky mountains featured in poster from the Squamish artist who brought you 'Sh*tty Plants'

Sarah Keller's 'Mountains of the Sea to Sky' includes Sḵwx̱wú7mesh names.

A new Sea to Sky poster has been created by the local artist who brought you the popular 'Sh*tty Plants of the Pacific Northwest' poster, this time minus the swearing. 

Squamish teacher Sarah Keller has created a 'Mountains of the Sea to Sky poster,' featuring the corridor's most iconic mountains with their Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) names where possible. 

This poster also has a vintage look to it, a style Keller favours in her art.

The landmarks featured are those Keller looks at herself while travelling the Sea to Sky, including Anvil Island, Mount Sedgwick, Alpha Mountain, Mount Garibaldi and the Stawamus Chief.

"I kind of just want to categorize things that are relevant to us, as humans, especially in this area," said Keller, who teaches Grades 2 and 3 at École Squamish Elementary.

Keller worked with the Nation's Ta na wa Ns7éyx̱nitm ta Snew̓íyelh (Squamish Language and Culture Department), which has approved the use of their language and provided some helpful translation details.

Proceeds of sales of the poster will go back to the Nation toward a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh  Sníchim (Squamish language) educational scholarship, the details of which are still being worked out, Keller said. 

She acknowledged being a white person using her art to share the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language, she still feels some discomfort with the project.

Giving back to the Nation is what she is able to do to compensate for that somewhat.

"It doesn't resolve me of being a white person doing art and using Indigenous language, but ... I just want to give back in any way I can and not just take," she said.

The experience of working with the Nation was eye-opening, she said. She learned a lot and was struck by how much is not known or has been lost through colonialism.

The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh translation for Alpha Mountain, for example, is "horrible taste," though why is unclear. 

"There's just so much knowledge we don't have. And so it's cool that it almost feels like a living document because there's so much learning going on," she said.

She said it gives her a sense of wonder to think about all there is to still learn. This is a feeling she hopes to inspire in her students.

Keller said she has plenty of ideas for other posters, including more plant posters. 

Of the excitement around her first poster,"'Sh*tty Plants"  — which garnered thousands of likes and shares on multiple social media platforms when it was released — she said she had been recently realizing how well-known it is.

She has been at craft markets lately, and folks have recognized the poster. 

Other times, she has watched people react in real-time. 

 "Oh my goodness, I don't know why I didn't do [markets] earlier because now I have my Sh*tty Plants poster on display, and I get to see people's reactions. I can watch someone make eye contact with the title, and automatically I get a smile,” she said. “If my art can make people smile or bring them some kind of a feeling like happiness, that is the coolest, coolest thing. So it's been such a fun journey."

Both posters are available from her site, www.sarahkeller.art.

 

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