The Last Totem


The Last Totem was the largest totem of Carey’s career, and the final one carved out of old growth red cedar. Traditionally, red cedar is a sacred entity, utilized by many Indigenous cultures in various ways such as building houses, carving canoes, weaving clothes, and for healing purposes. Throughout the five years it took to create the totem, Carey began to question the ethics of harvesting a disappearing resource for commercial gain. To reconcile this, he committed to three steps of action in relation to the Last Totem: 

  1. A second totem was carved and placed near the Last Totem in Essen, Germany. This totem was composed of two joint beams from second growth trees to replicate the massive scale of an old growth. It serves to inspire change for industrial and environmental evolution. 
  2. To facilitate zero waste, a second totem was created with the remnant pieces from the first. This process combined 3D modeling software and CNC machine technologies with a hand-carved finish. The totem was raised outside of Pacific Opera in Victoria, B.C. 
  3. In a collaboration with artist and IMAX filmmaker Kelly Richardson, the final totem was created with a 3D printing technology that utilized a filament extracted from trees – a totem composed of collected wood shavings. Richardson projected stunning visual imagery that transformed the totem into a commentary on climate change. The work was exhibited in Germany at the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair.

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