Moy Sutherland is from Ahousaht First Nations, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Moy carries two traditional names: Hiish-Miik, which translates as “someone who gets whatever they are after” and Chiotun from the Coast Salish village of Sliammon, which translates as “someone who helps.” Born on January 4, 1974, Moy grew up immersed in his culture and its traditions.
Moy has submerged himself in his artist career for 20 years. In 1994, Moy began his artistic career in Alert Bay, BC, learning the principals of carving. Upon mastering basic techniques, Moy moved home to his traditional territory to learn more about Nuu-chah-nulth art forms thus broadening his horizons to include the Nuu-chah-nulth style. Even at the beginning of his artistic career, Moy demonstrated intelligence and meticulousness as an artist.
In 2000, Moy’s artistic development became further focused when he began an apprenticeship with world-renowned Nuu-chah-nulth artist Arthur Thompson. Arthur mentored Moy until Arthur’s death in March of 2003. While working with Arthur, Moy furthered his understanding of Nuu-chah-nulth design structure and refined his skills. Through assisting with, and later working on projects together, Arthur also shared his vast knowledge of totem pole carving, traditional bentwood box construction, and articulated mask structure and assembly. More importantly Moy also learned the cultural significance of form structure, design and carving methods from Arthur. The influence and lessons of his mentor and friend are a large influence on Moy’s present day art.
Moy has the benefit of having learned his craft from both Kwakwaka’wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth artists. He has used the experience to broaden his understanding of all Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations’ art forms. Although he is very mindful of staying within the traditional rules and values of his culture, he strives to find ways to set himself apart from other artists. He enjoys exploring different media and he is refining his own unique style, both with modern and traditional techniques. For Moy, his art is very deeply rooted in his culture. He finds it both spiritually rewarding and educational.
Moy comes from a very traditionally rooted family, where the Nuu-chah-nulth culture is a large part of everyday life. Until his tenure with Arthur Thompson, he was pursuing a degree in anthropology, focusing on the traditional aspects of First Nations’ culture. For Moy art and anthropology are natural interests and connect to each other; he believes both meet on a journey into the history of his people; a journey that, for him, is a path of understanding and appreciating the connection between the natural world and his culture, and the expression of it in artistic form.
Moy’s work can be found in galleries, museums, magazines & books, and private collections throughout the world.
“For me, the meaning of life is to learn of and understand my cultural surroundings, so that this knowledge can be preserved and used in everyday life. Like our elders before us passed this knowledge on, so must we to our descendants. In this manner, respect becomes an integral part of life, respect for everything. I draw my knowledge and inspiration from the teachings of those whom I respect, and I incorporate these into everything I do.“
Works by this Artist (Present + Past + Public)
Red Cedar wood, Acrylic paint
With a traditional formline design etched into the contemporary medium of glass, Moy Sutherland’s Raven Panel constitutes an elegant example of coastal First Nations’ artwork in the modern era.
While panels are a common feature of Pacific Northwest Coast art, they are primary carved from laminated planks of cedar wood. Glasswork panels are still quite rare, but truly attest to the evolution of contemporary coastal art over the last decade. This particular panel is a lovely illustration of the interplay between tradition and innovation that can be found in many Northwest Coast artworks of today.
Red Cedar wood, Abalone shell, Acrylic paint
Moy Sutherland’s Eagle Panel constitutes a captivating depiction of a powerful Pacific Northwest Coast figure. By utilizing the full surface of the panel, Moy manages to display the Eagle figure in its entirety, and allows for an extraordinary level of detail throughout the piece. Combined with a unique shade of green and generous use of brilliant Abalone inlay, the final result is a remarkably striking work of art.
The Eagle is seen as a symbol of prestige, power, peace, wisdom and friendship. Eagles are one of the most prominent beings in the art and mythology of Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous culture, and claim both honour and high stature. They are respected for their intelligence, grace, and power, and can be associated with freedom and lofty pursuits. In artwork, this creature can be easily recognized by its hooked beak.
Moy has learned his craft from both Kwakwaka’wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth artists, and has used this experience to broaden his understanding of all Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations’ art forms. Although he is very mindful of staying within the traditional rules and values of his culture, he strives to find ways to set himself apart from other artists. He enjoys exploring different media and he is refining his own unique style, both with modern and traditional techniques. For Moy, his art is very deeply rooted in his culture. He finds it both spiritually rewarding and educational.
Price upon request
Red Cedar wood, Abalone shell, Acrylic paint
Moy Sutherland’s “Wolf of the Sea” Panel is a striking depiction of a powerful Pacific Northwest Coast figure. The size of the panel allows the full figure to pan down the face of the wood, inviting the eyes of all in its vicinity. Combined with a generous use of Abalone inlay, the final result is a truly impressive work of art.
The Wolf is seen as a symbol of patience, individuality, provider, unity, and family. Out of all the animals, Wolves are believed to have the strongest supernatural powers and are often sought as spirit aids by hunters. Wolves are the counterpart to the Killerwhale. They are fierce protectors of family and are known to mate for a lifetime.
The Killerwhale, often referred to as the “Wolf of the Sea,” is associated with family, power, strength, dignity and communication. Like the Wolf, Killerwhales are fierce protectors and mate for a lifetime. According to coastal First Nations oral traditions, Killerwhales live in villages deep within the ocean, where they remove their skins and live as large humans. They are said to be the reincarnations of great chiefs, and are reputed to act as guides to humans caught within storms.
Red Cedar wood
Deviating from the opulence that typically characterizes his work, Moy Sutherland’s Humpback Whale Panel utilizes a more minimalist artistic approach which highlights the richness of red cedar wood.
Cedar wood is the most traditionally used medium in Pacific Northwest Coast art, and often the artists’ diligently carved designs are highlighted with colourful paint. Cedar is strong, lightweight, and extremely versatile. These qualities lend themselves well to carving, and result in a wood that can be used to create a wide variety of objects. Although painted panels are beautiful in their own right, they tend to distract from the natural beauty of the medium itself. In contrast, the elegant simplicity of this Humpback Whale Panel allows this natural beauty to take centre stage.
Historically, whaling was an important subsistence practice for the Nuu-cha-nulth people, and played a pervasive role in their social and economic systems. Alongside the California grey whale, Humpback whales were one of the species most commonly hunted by Indigenous communities in the region. While Humpback whales are not often depicted in Pacific Northwest Coast art, Grey and Humpback whales, as well as other imagery related to whaling, play a significant role in the artistic traditions of the Nuu-chah-nulth.
Moy Sutherland has learned his craft from both Kwakwaka’wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth artists, and has used this experience to broaden his understanding of all Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations’ art forms. Although he is very mindful of staying within the traditional rules and values of his culture, he strives to find ways to set himself apart from other artists. He enjoys exploring different media and he is refining his own unique style, both with modern and traditional techniques. For Moy, his art is very deeply rooted in his culture. He finds it both spiritually rewarding and educational.
The artist’s Past Works at our Gallery have now sold; however, commissions may be available – please inquire here (please note that not every artist accepts commissions).