Tsimshian / Cree Nations
(1947 – 2014)
Ken Humpherville, a Metis Cree was born 1947 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. At age 3 his parents moved to British Columbia, eventually settling in Prince Rupert just north of the Skeena River and home to the Tsimshian people. This has been Ken’s lifelong home and he has been adopted by the Eagle House of the Gispaloats. He has been given the name “N’da Xamoodum St’sool” which translates “Beaver Who Helps another Beaver”.
Ken worked as a carpenter and contractor, as well as a value-added wood harvester for 25 years. In 1994 Ken’s work was discovered at an art show and potlatch in Alaska and was consequently invited to exhibit in a reputable gallery in Portland, Oregon.
As collectors became familiar with his fine workmanship, the demand for his artwork increased. With continued support from galleries, and especially collectors, Ken has been pursuing his specialty, the art of steam-bending wood for elaborately detailed chests, on a full-time basis since 1996. Inspirational master carvers as Dempsey Bob, Heber Reece and Henry Green, have greatly influenced his technique and form.
Ken was constantly improving his knowledge of the traditional Tsimshian style in order to become more proficient in the aspect of design. As a perfectionist, his elaborately carved and painted bentwood boxes, chests and paddles demand a high value within a relatively short time of carving. His dedication to his artwork coupled with his attention to detail and skill at steambending wood has set Ken apart from other artists.
Ken’s capabilities go beyond box making. He created bentwood bowls, masks, paddles and large-scale wall panels. He continuously explored new possibilities of designing and maintained that he would always consider himself a student of this art form.
A number of Ken’s pieces were featured in American Indian Art Magazine. He completed a large bentwood chest commissioned by Sea Alaska Corporation that was displayed in their foyer in Juneau, Alaska. In 1999 he won first prize for his exquisite artwork in a show judged by First Nation’s people in Portland, Oregon.
Ken was the proud father of 6 daughters, and a young son with his new wife Denise.
Coastal Peoples Gallery has been very fortunate to have several distinctive pieces from this artist in their exhibitions since 2001.
2013 Sante Fe Indian Market – Sante Fe, New Mexico, First Place – Category 1905 – Wood