Vashon Green School collaborates with NWAAE artist Eileen Klatt in a moving and powerful Earth Day performance
For over a decade Eileen Klatt researched and painted extinct salmon and trout of the Colombia River Basin. Out of that work a collection titled A Litany of Salmon was created. On Saturday April 23, 2022, in an outdoor celebration for Earth Day, Vashon Green School director, Dana Schuerholz, honored each individual extinct salmon species in Eileen’s Litany, as she spoke its name—while a VGS student held the correlating prints. True to the origins of the word litany, students responded to the name of each salmon with a recurring “EXTINCT!” With abundantly more extinct salmon than students could manage, members of the audience were asked to carefully hold individual salmon prints. By the end of the litany the outdoor venue was filled with Eileen Klatt’s vibrant artwork paired with a solemn weight of the 61 extinctions they represent in our own Colombia River Basin.
Following a moment of silence, Dana Schuerholz, concluded with a call to action. “Through art we transform the world. If we do not care for our ecosystems, our homes, the salmon will not return. This is the story told for generations by the first peoples of the Pacific Northwest.”
More than a few adults in the audience were brought to tears as young people and their teacher gave voice to the salmon and to their extinction—while, out of necessity, calling for collaborative help from those who gathered. Storyteller and mythologist Michael Meade, while not present for the litany performance, heard moving stories from friends in the audience and incorporated the narrative of the litany into his Earth Day storytelling about Hope and Imagination In These Dark Times. Creative acts inspire creative acts. “Through art (of visuals, music, story, performance…) we transform the world.”
A huge thanks to Northwest Artist Against Extinction, Eileen Klatt for permission to use her Litany of Salmon images, and to Dana Schuerholz and the students of Vashon Green School for an inspiring, engaging call to action and contemplation. For information on how to purchase prints from The Litany of Salmon, connect directly with Eileen Klatt at http://klattfish.net or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Britt Freda