Derek J. White
Derek White was born and raised on Haida Gwaii. His father, Morris White, was a Chief of the Edinsu (Edenshaw) Eagle Clan of Kiusta until he passed away in 1997. Derek's grandfather, Geoffrey White, was the grandson of the great carver, Charles Edenshaw. At a young age, his father gave up his career as a fisherman to become a full time artist. He began carving silver, argillite, gold and wood.
Even with all the artistic influence in his house, Derek did not start carving until he finished high school. He carved small pieces, as well as helped his father and brothers carve a red cedar canoe and a carving shed. He was an apprentice under master carver Jim Hart in 1990 until 2000. He worked on several poles with him, including one in San Francisco and the Edenshaw Memorial Pole, which was raised in front of his Longhouse in August of 1999. Derek also worked extensively in his Longhouse, the Frog Constellation, on a large red cedar piece and some smaller projects. In 1995, he worked with his brothers Todd and Christian White and his brothers-in-law on the Cheif Edenshaw House Frontal Pole, which was carved and raised in 1995. This project was led by master carver Chris White.
In the year 2000, Derek worked in Skidegate for Tom Boyko and the Qay-llnaggay Heritage Centre Society on a pole that was raised in the Spring/Summer of 2001.
Derek is currently focusing on his art creating pieces in multiple media.
2004, Box of Treasures, Coastal Peoples Gallery
2005, Where the Spirit Gathers, Coastal Peoples Gallery
2006, Transcendence- a decade in perspective, Coastal Peoples Gallery
2007, Coastal Legacy, Coastal Peoples Gallery
2009, Haida Masterworks, Coastal Peoples Gallery
Sterling Silver, Argillite, Abalone shell, Mastodon Ivory, Repousse, Engraved
This piece opens to reveal an inner box with relief engraving that echos the outer lid.
Traditionally, boxes were considered prized possessions and customarily used to store wealth or special ceremonial objects such as masks, rattles, clothing and adornments. People often gave names to these beautiful ornate boxes, told stories about their histories and treated them as family heirlooms. However, non-decorated boxes acted as instruments of life – from storing less precious articles, to food and later used for mortuary purposes. In Haida mythology, a stack of boxes contained the essence from which Raven created the world.
Eagle, Dogfish, Beaver and Frog Box retains its traditional elements through conception and imagery. Derek exhibits his mastery in his precision of line and perfect symmetry of the formline of this treasure. The gently angled lid with Abalone inlay, as well as the engraved and incised elements on the box is suggestive of the prototypic bent cornered wooden boxes and chests.
The box contains not only depictions of four important crest animals, but connects to past traditions in which a box held more than the material object, it also linked people to their heritage, lineage and each other.