Artists in TRANSFORMATIONS: The George and Colleen Hoyt Collection of Northwest Art
andTRANSITION to PRINT: Selections from the George and Colleen Hoyt Collections of Northwest Coast Art include the following:
Born in Telegraph Creek, British Columbia, Dempsey Bob began carving in 1968. He attended the Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art from 1972 to 1974, where his mentor was Freda Diesing, who he credits as a major influence. Determined to create his own style, Bob began to travel around the world so that he could also study older Tlingit pieces that were located primarily in museums and private collections at the time. Today, Bob’s preferred medium is wood, but he also creates bronze sculptures and prints strongly influenced by Tlingit designs. Bob has participated in many artistic exchanges with Maori artists from New Zealand.
David A. Boxley was born in Metlakatla, Alaska. His grandparents, who raised him, taught him about Tsimshian culture and its language, known as Sm’algyax. After graduating from Seattle Pacific University in 1974, he became a high school teacher. In 1980, he began studying older Tsimshian carvings from museum collections and ethnographic materials. By 1986, he had left his teaching position to pursue an art career. He has produced countless bentwood boxes, masks, drums, and prints, and carved more than seventy totem poles. With his family, including son David R. Boxley, also an artist, he formed the Git Hoan Dancers, who bring Tsimshian dance to wide audiences.
Lyle Campbell was born in Masset, British Columbia, where he began drawing at a young age. After carving his first piece of wood at fourteen, he was inspired to learn more about the craft and eventually enrolled at the Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art. Since graduating, he has gone on to work with many accomplished artists including Robert Davidson. While he is best known for his carving, Campbell also works with argillite, jewelry, painting, and printmaking. Over the years, he has transitioned into a new style full of bold colors and more fluid designs that blend Haida myths and social issues. In 2021, Lyle Campbell and a team of carvers raised the first Haida pole in Prince Rupert in over thirty years. The pole was created in honor of his late mother, Alice Campbell, and raised in front of his childhood home, where his father still resides.
Simon Charlie, or Hwunumetse’, was a renowned master carver born near Duncan, British Columbia. Primarily self-taught, he played a significant role in the preservation and revival of traditional Coast Salish art. Some of his techniques included adding faces to the feet of bear figures and extra texture to emphasize animal fur and scales. During his career, he was commissioned to carve poles and other sculptures for museums from Europe to New Zealand. Charlie received honors for his artistic contributions, including the National Centennial Medal (1967), the Order of British Columbia (2001), and the Order of Canada (2003).
Greg Colfax was born in Neah Bay, Washington, and is an educator, creative writer, and artist. He obtained degrees from both Western Washington University and the University of Washington and has taught in the Native American Studies Program at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. In 1974 he began studying under artists Art Thompson, George David, Steve Brown, and Loren White. Since then, he has taught and worked with many artists including Andy Wilbur-Peterson, who in 1984 helped him carve the Welcome Woman that stands at the entrance of the Evergreen College campus. The Welcome Woman was restored by Colfax and Wilbur-Peterson’s daughter Bunni Peterson-Haitwas (Skokomish) in 2019.
Born in Alert Bay, British Columbia, Doug Cranmer began drawing and carving when he was young; he occasionally studied with his step-grandfather, Mungo Martin. In 1958, he was invited by Bill Reid to assist with creating Haida-style houses and totem poles at the University of British Columbia, and his career as a serious artist began. Cranmer incorporated materials, tools, and techniques (such as silkscreening) in new and innovative ways. His designs began to include abstract and fluid formlines, and Cranmer continued to experiment with Northwest Coast conventions throughout his career. In 1967, the Vancouver Art Gallery recognized Cranmer in Arts of the Raven, their first exhibition of contemporary Northwest Coast art, and a major retrospective of his work was hosted by UBC’s Museum of Anthropology in 2012. Cranmer taught other First Nations artists at Kitanmax School near Hazelton, BC, as well as at various studios across British Columbia and at the Museum of Vancouver.
Kevin Cranmer was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia, and was raised in Victoria. He is the nephew of accomplished Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw artist Doug Cranmer and a relative of the Hunt family. When he was a child, he would accompany his father, Danny Cranmer, to the Arts of the Raven Gallery and watch him work. Kevin’s first formal instruction came at the encouragement of his parents when he apprenticed with his cousin George Hunt Jr. He then began working with other members of the Hunt family and additional well-known artists. Later in his career, Cranmer began to take part in larger projects when he went to work in Thunderbird Park with artist Tim Paul. Today, Cranmer shares his wide range of skills to create masks, rattles, prints, and other objects for retail trade. He creates special ceremonial pieces for family use, as do many contemporary Northwest Coast artists.
Douglas David was born in Seattle, Washington, and is the son of artists Joe David and Sandra Tuifua Bluehorse. Although he began carving with his father at a young age, his curiosity about art was initially sparked by the Plains dreamcatchers, painted shields, leather, and beadwork created by his mother. Over the years, David has gone on to find mentorship from his uncle George David, and Art Thompson. David works in a variety of media including masks, rattles, paddles, and bowls. His blend of cultural influences has helped him create a signature style.
Joe David was born in Opitsaht, British Columbia, to parents who raised him with a foundation in his cultural heritage. He studied art in San Marcos, Texas, and later in Seattle took inspiration from the Northwest Coast art at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum and the work of scholar Bill Holm. David worked with and learned from many Northwest Coast artists, including his cousin Ḳi-ḳe-in (Ron Hamilton), Bill Reid, and Robert Davidson, and non-Indigenous artist Duane Pasco. Through his studies and experiences with different artists around the world, he defined his own style working with wood, bronze, oils, and jewelry and is one of the key figures in the resurgence of Northwest Coast art. In 1977, he added silkscreen printing as another medium and released several significant limited-edition prints in a West Coast style, which has fluid formlines. David has taken on numerous commissions for large projects around the world, including two large welcome figure sculptures for Expo 86 in Vancouver now located at the Vancouver International Airport. In 2000, he had the honor of being the first artist chosen for the Aboriginal Artist in Residence Program at Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle.
Born at Masset, British Columbia, Reg Davidson is the son of Claude Davidson and brother to Robert Davidson. He is an internationally celebrated artist with a wide variety of skills including carving, painting, weaving, and jewelry making. He began carving argillite in 1972 by studying with his father and studying historical publications. In the late 1970s, he worked with his brother, Robert, and many other artists on the Charles Edenshaw Memorial Longhouse in Masset. During this time, he sought to establish his own style and created some of his first designs for carvings and prints. In 1980, Reg and his brother, Robert, formed the Haida Rainbow Creek Dancers, a group for which he has designed and created many masks, drums, and capes. Davidson is also a singer and dancer for the group.
Robert Davidson, or Guud Sans Glans, is an internationally acclaimed artist who was born in Hydaburg, Alaska, and raised in Old Massett on Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. He began carving at age thirteen under the tutelage of his father, Claude Davidson, and his grandfather, Robert Davidson Sr. In 1965 he moved to Vancouver and began to learn more about Haida art and culture through the city’s museum collections. He briefly worked with Bill Reid and through him met Bill Holm and UBC anthropologist Wilson Duff. In 1967, he enrolled at the Vancouver School of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art + Design) to refine his skills. Then, at twenty-two, with the help of his father and brother, he carved and raised the first totem pole in Masset in nearly ninety years. He has been the subject of several one-person exhibitions in several prestigious museums across Canada and the U.S. Davidson continues to be a leading figure in the upsurgence of Haida art and culture and has gone on to receive many honors for his accomplishments. With his brother, Reg, Davidson formed the Haida Rainbow Creek Dancers in 1980, who continue to perform today.
Benjamin Kerry “Beau” Dick, also known as Walas Gwa'yam, was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia, and became one of the Northwest Coast’s most vital artist-activists. He began carving at an early age under the guidance of his father, Benjamin “Blackie” Dick, and later apprenticed with his grandfather James Dick. He also worked with a number of other artists, including his uncle Jimmy Dawson, Henry Speck, Doug Cranmer, Joe David, Tony Hunt Sr., Bill Reid, and Robert Davidson. Dick’s work is grounded in Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw culture and epistemology and his art practice has included deploying his creations to support Indigenous rights and to critique global consumerism. He is well known for masks, rattles, drums, paintings, and limited-edition prints. Dick was the subject of the 2017 documentary film Meet Beau Dick: Maker of Monsters, which follows his career as an artist, community leader, and political activist.
Francis Dick is a well-respected artist from the Musgamagw Dzawada̱'enux̱w band of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw Nation. She was born in Kingcome Inlet, British Columbia, and attended residential school as a child. Dick is primarily self-taught but has been greatly influenced by other artists like her grandmother Anitsa, brother Beau Dick, and artists Bruce Alfred and Fah Ambers (Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw). In 1991, she earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, but soon realized she wished to make art her life’s work. In addition to working in printmaking and carving, Dick is known for performance art.
Simon Dick, also known as Tanis, was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia, and raised in Kingcome Inlet. Growing up, Dick learned about Kwakwaka’wakw traditions from his family and spent time with many different artists. In his early twenties, he worked as an apprentice for four years under carver Tony Hunt Sr. in Victoria and then went on to study language and music with Sam Henderson. Dick’s work has also been significantly influenced by James Sewid, Henry Speck, Charlie George, and Benjamin “Blackie” Dick. He has become a master canoe carver over time and has worked on many large-scale projects around the world. In addition to his woodworking, Dick began creating limited-edition prints in 1995.).
Freda Diesing was born in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Inspired by Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw carver Ellen Neel’s work, Diesing decided in her forties to pursue woodworking. During her time at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design (now the Emily Carr University of Art + Design) and the Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art, Diesing was mentored by many well-known carvers, including Robert Davidson, Bill Holm, and Tony Hunt Sr. She is credited as one of the many artists responsible for the 1960s reawakening of Northwest Coast art and culture throughout the entire region. Later in life, Diesing mentored other artists including Dempsey Bob, Norman Tait, Phil Janzé, and her nephew Don Yeomans. In 2002, she received both an Indspire Award and an honorary doctorate from the University of Northern British Columbia.
Wayne Edenshaw was born in Masset, British Columbia. He began working with Haida artforms when he was eight years old and apprenticed under his uncle Guujaaw, also known as Gary Edenshaw, on a number of projects over the years. Edenshaw learned by replicating the work done by previous master carvers before going on to develop his own style. However, his professional career did not begin until he worked as an assistant to Beau Dick. Together the two worked on several commissions in preparation for Expo 86. Edenshaw strives to create pieces that honor his own history and can stand as equals to the incredible work done by the master artists of the past.
Walter Harris was born in Kispiox, British Columbia, and worked as a carpenter in the 1960s. Involved in the reconstruction of an ancient Gitxsan village near 'Ksan, he helped to build traditional plank houses and other structures. He attended the Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art at 'Ksan and learned from renowned artists such as Doug Cranmer. Although he is often known first as a carver due to his carpentry background, Harris also became an accomplished printmaker. Harris has carved totem poles for locations in Canada, France, and Japan.
Calvin Hunt was born at Fort Rupert in British Columbia and comes from a family immersed in Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw art and culture. He began carving as a young child under the guidance of his uncle Henry Hunt and cousin Tony Hunt Sr. Then, in 1972, he formally apprenticed with his cousin at the Arts of the Raven Gallery in Victoria for the next nine years. In the early 1980s, Calvin and his wife, Marie, returned to his ancestral home and opened up a carving workshop called the Copper Maker, and later they added a retail art gallery space. Hunt works in a variety of media including wood, gold, silver, stone, and silkscreen printing. In 2004, he was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and in 2009 received the BC Creative Achievement Award for Aboriginal Art.
George Hunt Jr., also known as Nas-u-niz, was born in Campbell River, British Columbia, and comes from a long line of master carvers including his great-uncle Henry Hunt and uncles Tony Hunt Sr. and Calvin Hunt. At the age of fourteen, he apprenticed under his father, George Hunt Sr., and maternal grandfather, Sam Henderson, who both taught him about knife techniques and Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw forms. He has been professionally carving since 1972 and has spent many years refining his style and learning about his culture. Hunt’s work is highly sought-after around the world due to his attention to detail and extremely intricate designs.
Born at Fort Rupert, British Columbia, Henry Hunt became an artist later in life, after marrying Helen Nelson, Mungo Martin’s daughter. Hunt was mentored by his father-in-law and worked alongside him at the Royal British Columbia Museum’s Thunderbird Park pole project in Victoria. Originally the project was meant to last only a few years; however, the park exists to this day as a place for the restoration and preservation of Indigenous art. During his time working on the project, Hunt passed his knowledge on to his three sons, Tony, Stan, and Richard. Together their efforts at Thunderbird Park and within their respective communities have helped to protect and promote Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw artwork, stories, and artistic techniques.
Richard Hunt was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia. He is the son of master carver Henry Hunt and brother to Tony Hunt Sr. and Stan Hunt. Apprenticing first under his father in Thunderbird Park in 1973, he then served as master carver there from 1974 until 1986, when he was succeeded by artist Tim Paul. Hunt is well known for both carving and printmaking. In both mediums, Hunt enjoys creating pieces that have a touch of levity in them, accomplished by adding smiles and other small details when possible. Aside from his role as artist, Hunt is an educator and has done projects and demonstrations all over the world.
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tom Hunt is the son of George Hunt Sr. and Mary Hunt and comes from a rich extended family of artists. He began his first apprenticeship at the age of twelve with his father and then later worked with his brother, George Hunt Jr. During his summers, Hunt spent time learning from his grandfather Sam Henderson and practiced in Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw art styles, including the substyle of Blunden Harbour/Smith Inlet. In 1983, he worked under his uncle Calvin Hunt at the Copper Maker Gallery and built a stronger and more versatile set of skills. In addition, he has also worked as Susan Point’s assistant on several of her larger projects. He has completed several commissions, including clan house posts at the school in Quatsino and a welcome figure at the Klemtu ferry terminal. The Hoyts commissioned a set of three Hamat’sa dance masks from Hunt, completed in 1997.
Tony Hunt Jr. was the son of Tony Hunt Sr and was born in Victoria, British Columbia, into the renowned Hunt family of artists. He began learning how to carve from his father while still a young teenager; he spent his high school years studying both academics and carving at Arts of the Raven Gallery in Victoria. He assisted on large-scale projects alongside his father, his grandfather Henry Hunt, his uncle Calvin Hunt, and non-Indigenous artist John Livingston. He was known for his masks and carvings, many of which have been included in major museum exhibitions, and for his work with many other family members building the longhouse at Fort Rupert, the ancestral home of the Hunt family.
Tony Hunt Sr. was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia. In 1952, his family moved to Victoria, where he learned carving from his maternal grandfather, Mungo Martin, and father, Henry Hunt. From 1962 to 1972, he was an assistant carver to his father at Thunderbird Park. Eventually, Hunt focused his attention on the Arts of the Raven Gallery that he co-founded with non-Indigenous artist John Livingston in Victoria in 1970 and which offered an apprenticeship program for young First Nations artists. Hunt also mentored his son, Tony Hunt Jr., who until his untimely death was also an accomplished artist. In his lifetime, Tony Hunt Sr. received significant recognition, including the Commonwealth Medal of Honor and the Order of British Columbia.
Born at Port Edward, British Columbia, Jackson grew up in a small community where he met fellow future artist Dempsey Bob; the two would carve their own toys together. In the 1960s, Jackson refined his skills by studying and replicating older Gitxsan artworks. Jackson went on to attend the Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art, where he practiced wood carving, jewelry making, and serigraph printing from 1973 to 1976. From 1979 to 1984, Jackson owned and operated the Skyclan Art Shop in Prince Rupert, BC, which specialized in Northwest Coast art. He has been credited as a leading innovator and technician for his work with Gitxsan portrait mask design.
Phil Janzé was born in Hazelton, British Columbia, in 1950. His interest in art started when he would come to work with his grandmother, a curator at the Skeena Treasure House in Hazelton. Janzé did not grow up with any carvers in his immediate family and was primarily self-taught. He began engraving metal at thirteen and learned from studying others’ work; however, he never took on a formal apprenticeship. Over the years, Janzé received guidance from many experienced artists, including Walter Harris, Vern Stephens, Norman Tait, and Gerry Marks. From 1982 to 1984, Janzé was recognized by Canadian Jeweller's Challenge for creating some of the finest pieces in Canada. In addition to jewelry making, Janzé also adapted his intricate designs for wood carvings and silkscreen prints.
Maynard Johnny Jr. was born in Campbell River, British Columbia, and has been creating art since he was seventeen years old. While he considers himself self-taught, he acknowledges that he has drawn inspiration from many Northwest Coast artists such as Art Thompson, Robert Davidson, Susan Point, and Mark Henderson. In 2013, Johnny collaborated with students at the University of Victoria on an important project titled Surviving Truth. The carved piece was a response to how First Nations children were affected by Canadian residential schools. In addition to his work as an educator, Johnny has received numerous awards for his graphic design work. He is internationally recognized for experimentation with bold, unusual colors and design choices across different mediums.
Floyd “Tyee” Joseph was born in Capilano, British Columbia, where he was surrounded by Salish art and learned carving from his father, Larry Joseph. After graduating high school, Joseph went on to attend Capilano College, majoring in art and learning sculpture, pottery, drawing, and design. He also traveled to Europe around this time, visiting museums and absorbing different art styles and cultures. In 1995, he was commissioned by the University of Victoria to create Welcome Figure, a large red cedar sculpture that stands in front of the engineering department. Joseph has gained international success for his art and is known for his bold color choices and unusual designs. Today, he continues to work as a master carver, painter, printmaker, and silversmith.
Ḳi-ḳe-in, also known as Hupquatchew and Ron Hamilton, is a member of the Hupacasath (Opetchesaht) First Nation under the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. He was born at Ahaswinis, British Columbia, and in 1965, while still a teenager, found his passion in designing art, inspired by family members who taught him how to carve and paint. Ḳi-ḳe-in remembers growing up around his uncle George Cultesi feeling conflicted about how his uncle’s carvings and paintings were being prized as trophies by some non-Indigenous people. In 1971, he apprenticed with Henry Hunt and worked as a carver at the Royal British Columbia Museum until 1974. He then returned home to learn more about Nuu-chah-nulth ceremonial and social life. Ḳi-ḳe-in has made the conscious choice to limit his commercial work to screenprints and prefers to carve masks, rattles, and drums exclusively for other First Nations peoples. He has created his own variation on West Coast style that he shares with his cousin, Joe David.
Mungo Martin was a central figure in the twentieth-century resurgence of Northwest Coast art. Born at Fort Rupert, British Columbia, in 1881, he began carving as a boy, learning from stepfather Charlie James (Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw). In the late 1940s, he began working on restoration projects at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. Then in 1952, Martin was asked to lead a totem-pole restoration project in Victoria’s Thunderbird Park by the Royal British Columbia Museum. His knowledge, work, and mentorship of apprentice carvers helped revitalize many aspects of Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw culture in the mid-twentieth century.
Tim Paul was born in Zeballos, British Columbia, in 1950. He was raised by his grandparents and heavily immersed in family and tribal histories. At nineteen, Paul visited Thunderbird Park in Victoria and witnessed the carving program then led by artist Henry Hunt. In the 1970s, he began working for the program under the tutelage of Richard Hunt, eventually becoming senior carver himself. In 1992, he decided to leave his position at the museum to help the Port Alberni school board with an education program for First Nations children. Paul continues to practice his interpretations of West Coast sculpture and two-dimensional design. His knowledge of First Nations culture and history greatly influences his work as an artist, environmentalist, and teacher.
Susan Point was raised on the Musqueam Indian Reserve near Vancouver, British Columbia, where she continues to live. She is known for helping bring attention to the once-underrepresented Coast Salish style, especially through public art installations. As a child, Point was not exposed directly to art within her community. In the early 1980s, she sought to learn more about Coast Salish art, studying collections at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology and the Royal British Columbia Museum and seeking guidance from artists and scholars. She became fascinated by the spindle whorl, a carved wooden disk used for spinning wool, customarily a woman’s art. Point’s art has been strongly influenced by these circular designs, which can be seen on her silkscreen prints and etched-glass work. In addition to her fine art, Point is highly regarded for countless public works, including Flight (Spindle Whorl), installed at the Vancouver International Airport in 1995. The piece is recognized as the largest spindle whorl in the world, measuring 16 feet (4.8 meters) in diameter. Point’s work has been a source of inspiration for many artists past and present, including her own children, well-established artists Thomas Cannell and Kelly Cannell.
Qwalsius, also known as Shaun Peterson, was born in Puyallup, Washington, and began his professional career in 1996. By 2008, he was included in the ground-breaking exhibit S’abadeb, The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists at the Seattle Art Museum. His public art installations include the twenty-foot-tall welcome figure at the Tacoma Art Museum and other projects in the Seattle area. Qwalsius recognizes that materials that were once abundant are now scarce and works in multiple media including wood, glass, metal, and digital media.
Bill Reid was born in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1920, the same year Canada’s Indian Act was amended to require all children of Indigenous status to attend residential school. Reid was of Scottish-German descent on his father’s side and so escaped this requirement. In 1948, he began to study jewelry and engraving at Ryerson University in Toronto. Eventually, he learned from his mother about his Haida ancestry and of his great-great uncle Charles Edenshaw, a renowned Haida carver and sculptor. Reid then taught himself how to re-create deteriorating sculptures and poles by making educated guesses about techniques and designs. His efforts to preserve Haida art and culture, particularly in public art projects, brought him international acclaim.
Born in Burns Lake, in the central interior of British Columbia, Larry Rosso began carving at an early age with his grandfather. He later studied under Doug Cranmer and then apprenticed with Robert Davidson for three years after the two worked together on a project in 1988. Rosso’s style was greatly influenced by Carrier (the Dakelh, a Dene-speaking people indigenous to central interior British Columbia) and Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw designs and traditions. He was particularly known for bentwood bowls and boxes but his body of work included coffee tables, wall panels, masks, paintings, and silkscreen prints. When he saw the value of the printmaking industry, Rosso started Northwest Coast Screencrafts and specialized in printing limited-edition serigraphs for First Nations artists like Robert Davidson and Roy Henry Vickers. His support and mentorship helped make screen printing more accessible to many local artists.
Gerry Sheena was born in Merritt, British Columbia. Although he was initially drawn to art, he was unsure if art-making could become a viable career. The Interior Salish are known for their basket weaving, so he relied heavily on self-instruction when he was first starting out as a carver. Sheena began to study Coast Salish techniques and visited museums. In 1988, he began his carving career and learned the basics from his brother, Roger Swakum. He then went on to study fine arts at Langara College before attending Emily Carr School of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art + Design). Sheena also had the opportunity to learn from carvers Beau Dick and Susan Point. His research and years of carving experience have made Sheena a very versatile artist.
Born in Sonoma, California, Don Smith was raised in Oregon. Smith described his mother Mary as being of Cherokee background and explained the name “Lelooska” derived from an experience he had with Niimíipuu (Nez Percé) elders as an adolescent. Eventually, Smith became focused on learning about Northwest Coast tribes; his explorations led the adult Smith and his family to be adopted into the James Sewid family of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw. Beginning in 1963, Smith and his family performed shows inspired by their interpretations of Northwest Coast storytelling, song and dance, drawing thousands of visitors—especially families and school groups— to their Ariel, Washington, family compound annually. Smith’s work was considered worthy of inclusion in the 1967 Arts of the Raven exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Russell Smith was born at Alert Bay, British Columbia, where he grew up learning about Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw culture and his family’s oral histories from his mother. At eighteen, Smith began to take up wood carving, and a year later, in 1969, he was invited by Bill Holm to assist in the restoration of the south Kwakiutl Longhouse in Seattle, Washington. Smith later went on to study wood sculpture with Doug Cranmer and Larry Rosso. In addition to carving, he also learned from jewelry and metalwork artists Bill Reid, Gerry Marks, and Phil Janzé. Russell was known for working exclusively in ancient and traditional Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw designs as a way to honor his heritage.
Vernon Stephens was born in Hazelton, British Columbia, and was an instructor at the Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Art during the 1970s. As a result, he has mentored many artists active today. Stephens is known for highly stylized interpretations of Northwest Coast art. In his screenprints, he uses a minimalistic approach to formline designs and transforms them into scenes featuring realistic silhouettes of humans and animals. Stephens is also known for his carving and was one of the artists working alongside Earl Muldoe on the entry doors for the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. He also has several pieces in permanent collections in museums around the province.
Born in Kincolith, British Columbia, Norman Tait was fascinated by Nisga’a traditions and oral histories as a child. He comes from a family of celebrated carvers, including his father, Josiah Tait, and brothers Alver and Robert. In 1973, he helped his father carve the first Nisga’a totem pole to be raised in over fifty years. Like those of other First Nations, Nisga’a totem traditions were disrupted during the nineteenth century as Europeans either destroyed totems or took them to be displayed in museums as artifacts. In 1977, the UBC Museum of Anthropology featured a solo exhibit of Tait’s works, rare for a First Nations artist at the time. He was known for realistic detailing and was a master in large- and small-scale works. Tait worked closely with his apprentice Lucinda Turner, who became his carving partner on numerous projects.
Art Thompson was born in Whyac, British Columbia. He is known for his approach to the silkscreen medium in terms of colors and subject matter. In 1964, Thompson graduated from residential school; later, he became a powerful spokesperson about child abuse in the system. As an adult, he attended Camosun College, where he studied fine arts, and then Vancouver School of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art + Design), where he focused on two- and three-dimensional forms. In 1973, Thompson began to produce print images for serigraphs and drums. He was also highly regarded for his wood sculptures, masks, and silver engraving. Thompson’s work continues to inspire many Northwest Coast artists.
Andrea Wilbur-Sigo, whose name is sometimes shortened to Andrea Wilbur, was born in Shelton, Washington. Wilbur-Sigo is known for her versatility and innovation combining different media and technologies. She began her career at the age of eight when she sold her first piece and went on to become the first known female carver in her family. She has learned from and worked alongside many artists, including her father, Andy Wilbur-Peterson, Dempsey Bob, Archie Noisecat, David A. Boxley, and Joe David. Wilbur-Sigo also holds a degree in computer science, an education she has used to create laser-etched designs onto stones and shells. In 2011, Wilbur-Sigo was chosen as the lead artist for a new Chief Seattle memorial at the site of his grave on the Suquamish Reservation consisting of two twelve-foot-tall cedar story poles.
Wilson was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia, and raised in Koksilah. He was drawn to art very early and took his first design course with Doug Cranmer at the age of twelve. Growing up near Alert Bay, he also had the privilege of working with and watching artists such as Bruce Alfred, Beau Dick, Stephen Bruce, and Wayne Alfred. He found inspiration at potlatches and from reading books, where he noted that masks and other objects need to be vivid enough for audiences to see properly. By age seventeen, Wilson had begun producing paintings and carvings and has since apprenticed with master carvers such as Simon Charlie, Charles Elliott, and Tim Paul. Wilson’s sculptures and two-dimensional designs are known for their bold and unconventional colors, inspired by the potlatch ceremonies he has attended throughout his life.
Artist Don Yeomans was born in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. At the age of ten, he worked with Freda Diesing, who quickly encouraged him to create his own designs after witnessing his talent. Under the guidance of his mentor, he began to study other artists’ work through books including Bill Holm’s Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form and Marius Barbeau’s Totem Poles. While still very young, Yeomans was invited in 1978 by Robert Davidson to assist with the ongoing construction of the Charles Edenshaw Memorial Longhouse on Haida Gwaii. Then, a year later, he met artists Gerry Marks and Phil Janzé, with whom he studied jewelry making and repoussé (a metalworking technique involving hammering to create a relief surface for carving). Yeomans is known as both a carver and printmaker and for his colorful, confident innovations in both media. He incorporates the use of negative formlines into some of his prints, which adds a striking layer of depth.