Reuben Mack was born in 1994 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and grew up in Bella Coola. The Bella Coola Valley is one of seven Nuxalk reserves, which together cover 2,025 hectares of land, or 0.1% of Nuxalk ancestral territory. Of the 1,411 individuals that constitute the Nuxalk Nation today, approximately 893 currently live within these designated reserves.
Growing up, Reuben’s greatest influence was his father, an esteemed artisan named Alvin Mack. Carving is an art form that Reuben’s family has practiced for generations, and his desire for this tradition to continue led him to become a carver himself. From a very young age, he was beginning to learn how to carve, paint, and design in traditional Nuxalk art forms.
After living in Bella Coola for most of his childhood, Reuben moved to Terrace, British Columbia, in 2013. He was accepted into the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art, where he worked alongside instructors Dempsey Bob, Dean Heron, Stan Bevan, and Ken McNeil. During his time there, Reuben learned how to craft masks, bowls, spoons, paddles, and plaques. He grew into a devoted painter, sculptor, and design specialist. Once he completed his program, Reuben retuned to Bella Coola to study designs and techniques that were characteristic of both traditional and contemporary Nuxalk styles, as well as to sharpen his knowledge surrounding the rich history of the Bella Coola people.
While Reuben is still in the early stages of his career, he has already begun to make a name for himself in the Canadian art community. In 2013, Reuben’s work was exhibited in the Concourse Gallery at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. These exhibitions were accompanied by several art shows held at the Terrace Art Gallery throughout the years.
Reuben continuously pushes himself as an artist, with the goal of forcing himself further and further beyond his perceived limits. Ultimately, Reuben aspires to master the styles and techniques of his Nuxalk ancestors, and to pass their knowledge and their legacy on to future generations.
Yellow Cedar wood, Beads, Crushed stone, Pencil, Acrylic paint
“This mask was inspired by a frog bowl I’ve been working on. I went out of my comfort zone experimenting with the different colours of the sea. Water from the Bella Coola Inlet, water from the creeks and rivers are painted in my designs. If you look closely, you’ll see sea Eagles and an upside-down face which represents the frog bowl that inspired me to start this piece.” – Reuben Mack, 2019