View Cart “Hummingbird & Bear Box (Artist Proof)” has been added to your cart.

David Neel

David Neel has been creating art in the Kwakwaka’wakw style for over thirty years. His paintings, printmaking, carvings, and jewelry are all informed by his heritage, which includes several successful artists: Dave Neel Sr., his father; Ellen Neel, his grandmother; Mungo Martin, his great-great uncle; and Charlie James, his great-great-great grandfather. While many of his pieces are more contemporary in their material and design, Neel learned carving in the traditional style by his family and peers in his father’s village.

While Neel portrays meaningful stories and traditional values in all of his pieces, he says he finds jewelry the most impactful art form. He appreciates the fact that clients attach their own meaning to his jewelry and that it is used to mark important, personal events in people’s lives.

Neel has exhibited his work in many public institutions, including solo exhibitions at: the National Portrait Gallery of Canada; The Smithsonian Institution – NMAI; the Venice Biennale, and his work is represented in numerous public collections. His children are following in family legacy; studying art at the Emily Carr University and working with their father.

  • Thunderbird, Bear, Human, & Frog Pendant

    David Neel

    $2,700.00 CAD

    Sterling silver, 14K Yellow Gold, Abalone shell, Oxidized, Engraved

  • Charlie James Sun Mask [Framed]

    David Neel

    $4,500.00 CAD

    Acrylic paint on Canvas

    Framed

    This painting was inspired by a well known Sun mask by Charlie James. The designs in the background of the painting are based on traditional petroglyphs.

  • Supernatural Loon Bracelet

    David Neel

    $5,100.00 CAD

    14K Yellow Gold, Engraved

    In ancient Kwakwaka’wakw stories, the Loon aids the protagonist, taking him on its back and transporting him to the undersea realm, where animals live much like humans. It represents a helper spirit that is the portal or doorway to a supernatural world.

  • Hummingbird & Bear Box (Artist Proof)

    David Neel

    $390.00 CAD

    Serigraph, Artist Proof, Edition of 7

    Unframed

    (For inquiries on custom framing, please contact the gallery)

    This design depicts the legend of a hummingbird, who, while out gathering flower nectar, encountered a bear. This bear was something of a bully and would not allow the hummingbird to get near the flowers. Hummingbird tried again and again but the bear blocked her every time. Frustrated, the hummingbird gathered some twigs and flew inside the bear’s nose and down into his stomach, where she used the twigs to start a fire and then flew back outside. With smoke wafting from his nose and mouth, the bear ran away into the forest and never bothered hummingbird again. This legend teaches us that even great obstacles can be overcome.

    The design is in the shape of a cedar bentwood box, which was widely used by all the tribes on the Northwest Coast. They were used as storage containers, cooking vessels, and were stacked to serve as walls inside the big-house. The sides were made from a single red cedar plank that was “kerfed” so that it could be steam bent and would be water tight. The lid was often decorated with Operculum shells that were inlaid in a pattern. The boxes were painted with elaborate designs that are the foundation of Northwest Coast Native “flat design”. David has extensively studied the work of the master artists who painted the early bentwood boxes, which has influenced his hand engraved jewelry, and inspired the design for this print.

    – David Neel

  • Thunderbird the First Ancestor Pendant

    David Neel

    $2,600.00 CAD

    14K Yellow Gold, Turquoise, Engraved

    The Thunderbird is the main family crest for the Neel family.

  • Broken Promises [Framed]

    David Neel

    $800.00 CAD

    Serigraph, Edition of 75

    2017

    Framed

    They made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they kept but one: They promised to take our land, and they took it.”  ~ Chief Red Cloud

    Broken Promises is David Neel’s powerful tribute to those who supported the Standing Rock Sioux in their struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The DAPL protests began in 2016, when the construction of this 1,886 km underground oil pipeline was approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers. This 3.7-billion-dollar project would allow the transfer of crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil field to a refinery near Patoka, Illinois. However, the pipeline constituted a threat to the water supply for the nearby Standing Rock Indian Reservation, as well as to the preservation of the Standing Rock Sioux’s ancient burial grounds. Thus, the pipeline sparked bitter controversy across the nation, and North Dakota was flooded with environmental and Indigenous rights activists from all over the world.

    No Native American issue in recent years has captured the public’s imagination like the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline…. Ignored by the mainstream media, there was wide spread support from the public, and the issue went viral in social media with the hashtag, #noDapl, becoming widely recognized. It is ironic that this standoff took place on the same territory where Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and Red Cloud once fought the United States cavalry. But the pipeline protests were not to protect an ancient way of life: it was about human rights – public water versus corporate profits. The water supply to millions of people, who depend on water from the Missouri River, was threatened by the pipeline which will cross the river. This inspired thousands of Americans, Native and non-Native, to brave attack dogs, water cannons, tear gas and freezing weather to protect the public right to clean water.”  ~ David Neel

    The central image of Broken Promises shows Chief Red Cloud, a prominent Oglala Lakota chief who lead the fight against the U.S. military in a conflict that came to be known as “Red Cloud’s War.” In this print, Chief Red Cloud serves as a symbol of Native American traditional values and the Indigenous communities’ hard-fought struggle to retain their lands. The images in the top left and right of the print show protestors from Brazil and France, respectively. The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline raised environmental and Indigenous rights issues that communities all over the world are facing. The DAPL protests thus drew supporters on an international scale, as these images can attest. In the bottom left corner of the print, David has placed an image of protestors trying to stop earth movers from working on the pipeline. The bottom right corner features an image of the severe police response to the peaceful protest. Finally, the border of the print is constructed using a traditional Plains design, which is taken from a Plains Native American parfleche.

  • Supernatural Hummingbird Pendant

    David Neel

    $650.00 CAD

    Sterling silver, 14K Yellow Gold, Engraved

    The hummingbird has become an increasingly prominent figure in Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous art over the last few decades. Considered to be a whimsical creature, this tiny bird brings good luck and happiness to all who come across it.

    In many of the oral traditions on the Pacific Northwest Coast, the hummingbird plays the role of a powerful spirit helper, who is often associated with healing. It is believed that, in ancient times, all animals and people possessed the ability to transform one into the other and back again. In fact, this stunning Supernatural Hummingbird Pendant was inspired by a story in which The Transformer turned himself into a hummingbird so that he could fly away and escape his foe. Transformations like these often play a key role in many of the legends found throughout the Northwest Coast.

    Beyond its role in oral tradition, the hummingbird serves as a sub-crest for some Haida clans, and is an important symbol of healing, peace, and love.

  • Orca Pod Panel

    David Neel

    $11,000.00 CAD

    Yellow Cedar wood

    The Killerwhale, sometimes called the Orca, is an important crest symbol, associated with family, power, strength, dignity and communication. In Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous culture, every clan possesses its own history and traditions in the form of myths and legends. These legends explain how the ancestors of each clan acquired ownership of certain privileges, often gifted to them during an encounter with a powerful supernatural being. These privileges are a highly important part of First Nations life, and are retained by particular family groups through their laws of inheritance.

    Mating once for life and thought to be the reincarnation of great chiefs, Killerwhales are considered to be the protectors of mankind. Although they are known to capsize canoes and drag the inhabitants to their deep-sea dwellings, they are also reputed to act as guides to humans caught within storms.

    According to ancient oral traditions, Killerwhale Clans live in Killerwhale Villages deep within the ocean. When at home, they remove their outer skins and live as large humans. This legend serves as David Neel’s inspiration for the Orca Pod Panel.

    Orca Pod Panel is inspired by the family group, the pod, that is the social order for Killerwhales throughout their lives. They are known for being highly intelligent animals and are a prominent crest animal among all the Northwest coast Indigenous peoples. It is one of the main crests of my family. In our ancient stories there is a village under the sea, almost like another dimension or realm, where orcas transform from and to human form.” ~ David Neel, 2019

  • Salmon Pendant

    David Neel

    $3,900.00 CAD

    23K Yellow Gold, Abalone shell, Engraved
    17.44 grams

  • The Way Home: David Neel

    David Neel

    $32.95 CAD

    David Neel was an infant when his father, a traditional Kwakiutl artist, returned to the ancestors, triggering a series of events that would separate David from his homeland and its rich cultural traditions for twenty-five years. When he saw a potlatch mask carved by his great-great-grandfather in a museum in Fort Worth, Texas, the encounter inspired the young photographer to rekindle a childhood dream to follow in the footsteps of his father.

    Drawing on memories, legends, and his own art and portrait photography, David Neel recounts his struggle to reconnect with his culture after decades of separation and a childhood marred by trauma and abuse.  He returned to the Pacific Coast in 1987, where he apprenticed with master carvers from his father’s village. The art of his ancestors and the teaching of the people he met helped to make up for the last years and fuelled his creativity.  His career as a multi-media artist also gave him the opportunity to meet and photograph leading artists, knowledgeable elders, and prominent people from around the world.  In time he was a recognized artists, with his artwork presented in more than forty solo and sixty group exhibitions.

    The Way Home is an uplifting tale that affirms the healing power of returning home.  It is also a testament to the strength of the human spirit to overcome great obstacles, and to the power and endurance of Indigenous culture and art.

    Softcover

  • Life on the 18th Hole (1991) [Framed]

    David Neel

    $2,500.00 CAD

    Edition of 75

    1991

    Framed

    According to David Neel, Life on the 18th Hole was created to serve as a historical marker for an important event in Canadian history. This event, which came to be known as the Oka Crisis, shed light on many issues that had previously been swept under the rug. During the Oka Crisis, Life on the 18th Hole was commissioned by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who used the image as a poster to raise funds and spread awareness. Several copies of the poster were given to the Mohawk, and the press eventually caught wind of it as well. As a result, images of this serigraph were reproduced countless times throughout this period, making it one of David Neel’s most famous works.

    In the summer of 1990, the small town of Oka drew both national and international attention during a tense 78-day stand-off between Mohawk Warriors, the Sûreté du Québec, and the Canadian military. The conflict arose due to the expansion of the near-by golf course, the plan for which had been approved by Oka’s mayor. This expansion was to occur on a stretch of disputed land, which encompassed a portion of the Mohawk’s ancestral territory and contained a traditional burial ground.

    For decades prior to the stand-off at Oka, First Nations communities across Canada had been growing increasingly frustrated with the provincial and federal governments’ failure to recognize and honour Indigenous land rights. This failure was one of the many reasons for the brewing tensions between Indigenous Canadians and Canada’s governmental bodies. Thus, in many ways, the Oka Crisis was years in the making, and marks the moment when these long-standing tensions finally reached their boiling point.

    Although land disputes are still a common occurrence in Canada, the Oka Crisis had important, lasting effects throughout the country. It played a crucial role in raising Canadian’s awareness of Indigenous issues, and led to the establishment of the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) in 1991. Since then, the RCAP has helped facilitate dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties, which has resulted in various agreements that previously wouldn’t have been possible. Additionally, the conflict inspired many First Nations movements in the years that followed, including the Idle No More protests in 2012 and the continuing demands for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Lastly, the Oka Crisis sparked a greater understanding and appreciation by the federal and provincial governments regarding the need to consult First Nations communities when potential development projects impact their traditional territory.

    Life on the 18th Hole combines photographic and hand-rendered elements, with The Globe and Mail’s image of a Mohawk Warrior taking centre stage. The end result of this process is an impressive, hand-pulled silkscreen print that is loaded with symbolism.

    The Mohawk warrior symbolizes an individual pushed to his limit and having the will to stand his ground. The ‘10 little policemen,’ is turning around the nursery rhyme ‘1 little, 2 little, three little Indians,’ allowing the viewer to see the ethnocentric roots of this children’s nursery rhyme. The Circle is the circle of life, the arrows the four directions, four being the number of balance and completeness. The red dots represent the blood of man, one for each race; the red, the yellow, the black, and the white man. Jointly these remind us of the common bond of all men. The barriers between men and between races are erected, not inherent. Clearly it is up to individuals, not governments, to dismantle these barricades and work together to the benefit of all.” ~David Neel