Rod Smith was born in 1966 in Vancouver, BC, and currently resides in Qualicum Beach, BC. He has been given two traditional names — Galuyagmi (“Great First Birth”) and Thaelkualis (“He Who Feasts the People Til Morning”). Rod comes from a family of artists, with both his father and brother being excellent carvers and painters in their own right.
Both Rod and his brother, Steve Smith, discovered their love for art through their father, the late Kwakwaka’wakw artist Harris Smith (Lalkawilas). It was under his tutelage that they learned traditional Kwakwaka’wakw design forms and styles. As Harris shared his knowledge with his two beloved sons, the Smith family developed their own unique artistic style, in which traditional Kwakwaka’wakw form is utilized in non-traditional ways.
Rod is best known for the precision and elegance of his painting style, often featured on artworks made of basswood, red and yellow cedar, arbutus, and/or maple wood. His creations include sculptures, masks, poles, original paintings, plates, vessels, bowls, and bentwood boxes.
In 2002, Rod collaborated with his father and brother to create a stunning 8-foot totem pole. In 2005, Rod was featured in Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2, an indigenous art exhibition held at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. The exhibition aimed to demonstrate the distinctive place Native American art held in the larger art world. In 2019, the BC Law Society selected Rod to design their annual awards.
The intricately painted work of the Smith family is appreciated and sought after by seasoned collectors and new art lovers alike. Their artworks can be found in private collections all around the world.