Kelvin (Kelly) Robinson was born on May 18, 1981 in Nanaimo, British Columbia. He grew up in Bella Coola, BC. Descending from Nuxalk and Nuu-chah-nulth nations, Kelly was exposed to First Nations artwork. From an early age, he showed interest in learning and refining the art, specifically the unique from of the Nuxalkmc.
Under the guidance of his uncle, noted Master Carver, Alvin Mack, and his high school art teacher Charlene Kurtz, Kelly has developed his own techniques in the creation of two and three dimentional art forms. He has also had the pleasure of working under artists Dan Wallace, James McGuire and Cory Bulpitt.
Due to Kelly's desire from artistic development and perfection, he enrolled at the Native Education Centre in Vancouver, where he is currently taking a course in First Nations jewelry carving. Immediately following the completion of this course, Kelly will be attending the Freda Diesing School of Norther West Coast, where he will have the opportunity to work with renowned artist Dempsey Bob.
Alder wood, Cedar bark, Cedar rope
Kelly’s inspiration for this exceptionally-styled Salmon Dancer Mask with the Salmon’s open mouth exposing a human face comes from a traditional Nuxalk ceremony, which occurs every spring and is meant to celebrate and honor the first Salmon run of the season.
Due to the widespread importance of Salmon among various coastal indigenous cultures, many First Nations communities throughout the Pacific Northwest Coast have their own variations of these celebrations that are held upon the return of the fish to the rivers surrounding their ancestral lands. The first catch is awarded a high level of symbolic and ceremonial importance, playing a principal role in the feasts and festivities that surround this event. In Nuxalk tradition, the first catch is referred to as the Spring Salmon.
“Every year, we use ceremony to honour the return of our Salmon runs. The first Salmon to make their way up the Bella Coola River is the Spring Salmon. Feasts are given back to the people at this time. A respected member of the people is chosen, then he in return sings and dances once a year for this gathering.”
– Kelly Robinson, 2019