Cheryl Wadhams

"A journey that started with a promise I made to my late Anis (aunty) Emma, to learn Kwak'wala, the traditional language of my people, the Kwakwaka' wakw. My language journey started late in life. In 2016, I enrolled in the UBC Endangered Language program. I have progressed slowly to learn beyond my first words, Yo, 'wiksas and dagans dlu t'sigwanu ('Hi', 'How are you?' and 'Socks & eggs'). In 2017, the other part of this journey included producing many original works that had me "going back to the basics", exploring and studying traditional formline design concentrating on the 'ovoid'.

Gilakas' la to my language teachers who have supported my learning along the way: Emma, Pewi, Patricia, Rita, Hemasaelouth, and my best friend, Mr. Joe. "

- Artist Statement


Nugwa'am 'Ka'kaSolas, Cheryl Wadhams. Gayutlan lax Ma'amtagila du 'Namgis dlu Mamalilikulla.

My traditional and everyday name is 'Ka'kaSolas and my given name is Cheryl Wadhams. I am a member of the 'Namgis Nation but traditionally belong to the Ma'amtagila tribe through my gagamp (grandfather) and l am connected to the Mamalilikulla tribe through my Ada du abas, (grandmother) and Mom. I have been creating since my youth. I watched and learned to carve and design from my late uncles Lloyd Wadhams, Don Dawson and Dennis Matilpi. I admire the works of renowned Kwakwaka wakw artists like Mungo Martin, Willie Seaweed and Ellen Neel. There are of course many others; too many to mention that I admire and that have influenced my carving, line drawing and making of traditional regalia like dance robes, aprons and cedar bark head pieces. As a wife, and mother of two sons, we are all very honoured and privileged to be connected to our potlatch system where we each hold traditional names, dances and positions. It is a lifetime of learning that I humbly respect and have chosen to carry the torch forward for my family and Nation.