Elk Sighting in Downtown Vancouver!

Elk for c̓əsnaʔəm

Photo by Cam Andrews

Photo by Cam Andrews

The City of Vancouver Public Art Program is pleased to announce a new artwork for the Canada Line City Centre Station by artist Dana Claxton.

Elk for c̓əsnaʔəm by Dana Claxton, 2015

Vinyl on glass, 2.7 m x 7.5 m

Canada Line City Centre Station


Commissioned by the City of Vancouver Public Art Program

Curated by Rita Beiks

When asked to conceive an original work for this downtown site relating to the theme of c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city, Dana Claxton considered pre-colonial landscapes and animal nations such as elk, deer, bear, beaver, mink, raccoon, skunk and wolf populations that circulated through these lands by their own natural logic. In particular, elk forms a crucial aspect of First Nations subsistence and spiritual economies. In the artist’s Lakota Sioux community they hold power as a source of sacred mana integral to ceremonial life. Elk were plentiful in the lower mainland for thousands of years, yet have disappeared in less than two hundred. Today the local Musqueam people must trade up north and in the interior for elk, as their use remains intrinsic to the society and culture.

The artist questions: “What does this mean for society today? How are we respecting the “four-leggeds” still among us? What is our relationship with them?  Who is responsible for considering them and making sure they are safe? How do we live with them?”  She asks us to ponder these questions as we look through the grey concrete forest to see the aestheticized elk, alive in a celebration of colour, where it once may have been standing.


Dana Claxton is a Vancouver-based artist working in film, video, photography and performance art. She is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia. Her work has been exhibited internationally including at the Sundance Film Festival, at Micro Wave (2005) in Hong Kong, the 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2010) and at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2015. Born in Saskatchewan, Claxton is of mixed Euro-Canadian and Lakota First Nations heritage.

The artwork was curated by Rita Beiks as part of the Capture Photography Festival in relation to the exhibition c̓əsnaʔəm: The City Before the City at the Museum of Anthropology, Museum of Vancouver and the Musqueam Cultural Education Centre and commissioned by the City of Vancouver Public Art Program. Thanks to the Canada Line – InTransit BC.

The City of Vancouver Public Art Program plans and commissions contemporary art for public spaces in the city.

For more information contact: PublicArt@vancouver.ca

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