Marlo Wylie Brillon is a Skidegate Haida and Northern Cree artist from British Columbia. Marlo has received two Emerging Artist Scholarship awards. For her 2019 award, Marlo worked with mentor Jesse Brillon with a focus on carving and created a carved red cedar panel titled Kaalga Jaad and Xuuya. For her 2020 award, Marlo worked with mentor Richard Sumner to learn steam bending and create a bentwood box.
Kaalga Jaad and Xuuya, 2020
Red Cedar Panel Dimensions: 3’ x 4’
Kaalga Jaad and Xuuya (detail), 2020
“From an early age, I have been taught to uphold the cultural traditions of my ancestors. I primarily focus on Haida teachings – learning songs from my mother (Kalga Jaad) and performing culturally since I was six years old, and the Northwest Coast art form from my uncle, renowned jeweller, Jesse Brillon (Skil Xaaw). I began creating original design work around age 17, learning form from my uncle and Andy Everson. I have designed and carved cedar panels and I am now learning to carve in 3D forms such as masks, rattles and frontlets.
The creation of my piece “Kalga Jaad and Xuuya” was inspired by my reading from Swanton’s Ethnography of the Haida, and the short tale of Kalga Jaad soothing the fussy Raven by breastfeeding him to keep him quiet and calm. The story resonated with me for two reasons, one is that my mother and great-grandmothers name is Kalga Jaad, which translates to Woman of the Ice. Kalga Jaad is known as one of the original three primary Matriarchs of the Haida people. So, while this name has been passed down through our matrilineal line, I also felt the story conveyed beautiful imagery and captured a moment that highlighted the role of women in motherhood. The story also conjured imagery presenting nude female form, as was natural and without shame in Indigenous cultures.
I want to dedicate this piece in honour of my mentors: My uncle, Jesse Brillon, my stepdad, Andy Everson, and my partner, Karver Everson, for always sharing their knowledge and supporting me in my art practice. I would also like to acknowledge my matrilineal line, which has passed down this rich culture that I am continually working to uphold.”
– Marlo Wylie Brillon