Kwakwaka’wakw (‘Namgis) Nation
Wayne Alfred was born in 1958 into the Kwakwaka’wakw ‘Namgis First Nation who inhabit the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island. Wayne’s very refined and detailed work contains influences from such historic artists as Arthur Shaughnessy, Mungo Martin and Willy Seaweed, combined with his own sense of Kwakwaka’wakw tradition.
Wayne Alfred began carving at a very young age and received a great deal of support and encouragement from his elders to pursue his artwork on a full-time basis, thus helping him becomes the master he is today. Furthermore, he is known as both a singer and a Head Hamatsa dancer [leads the initiation process] thus he carries a high status within his community. His knowledge and familiarity with traditional practices and stories set him apart as a community leader and an establishes him as an influential figure to emerging artists.
In 1998 Wayne helped rebuild the ‘Big House’ in Alert Bay, the central congregational community structure before a fire consumed the original building in 1997. In the mid 1980’s Beau Dick and Wayne Alfred completed a thirty-foot totem pole that is still standing in Stanley Park.
Wayne’s work is avidly sought-after by many international collectors. His background and his artwork have been documented in many books focusing on the combination of traditional and contemporary themes in Northwest Coast First Nation’s culture.