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Yellow Cedar wood, Acrylic paint
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- Artist Bio
Yellow Cedar wood, Operculum shells, Acrylic paint
|Dimensions||8.5 x 10.5 x 7"|
Born in 1983, Philip Gray is a young artist who began learning how to carve at the age of fifteen under the direction of Salish artist Gerry Sheena. Although as a child Gray was not overly exposed to Tsimshian works of art, he has worked increasingly hard over the years to incorporate the unique design elements of the Tsimshian style into his current practice.
Gray has assisted in the carving of three totem poles, which now stand in various locations of Vancouver. During his first couple years of practice he only carved during the summer months, while working on community development projects. Since then, Gray has become more focused and has worked hard to improve his carving skills and knowledge by studying Tsimshian carving as well as taking an advanced design course by Robert Davidson. His work has been influenced by carvers such as David Boxley, Robert Davidson, and Don Yeomans.
As quoted from the exhibition Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2 (2005) at the New York Museum of Art and Design:
“… now that I am doing it [carving], I could not see myself doing anything else. My only hope is to continue to progress in my work and to bring Tsimshian art to another level.”
Philip has donated many of his designs and carvings to First Nations communities and the Lac Kaien Tsimshian Dance Group, of which he is an active member. His artwork can be found both in local galleries and international locales, including Malaysia, Poland, China, the United States, and Canada. In recent years Philip has travelled to Asia and has been greatly influenced and fascinated by the culture, language, and the many similarities that bridge Asian and North American cultural themes. This strong connection has inspired many of his works and has resulted in his experimentation with these influences as a means of pushing the boundary of traditional Tsimshian design.
2012 Cranmer + Gray, Dual Artist Exhibition, Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery. Vancouver, BC.
2009 Challenging Traditions, Group Exhibition, McMichael Canadian Art Gallery. Kleinburg, ON.
2009 Continuum: Vision and Creativity on the Northwest Coast, Group Exhibition, Bill Reid Art Gallery. Vancouver, BC.
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Yellow Cedar wood, Acrylic paint
“People of the Eagle” Frontlet, masterfully carved and painted by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Barry Scow, represents the Chief and his people of the Eagle clan. True to form of Barry’s fine carving, this frontlet portrays the Eagle with Sun, and commemorates Barry’s link to his Grandfather, who was a Chief, and to his heritage.
A Frontlet is a forehead mask attached to a woven headpiece, worn only by Chiefs and high-ranking individuals in order to display status. This particular frontlet carries the Eagle and Sun motif. The Eagle position belonged to the highest-ranking Chief in the village.
The Eagle lives in the sky, or Upper World, and represents status, power, peace and friendship. Eagle is the Chief of the birds, an honor he shares with the Woodpecker. The Sun is a popular Kwakwaka’wakw motif, used quite regularly in their art. The sun can represent life and creative forces as well as warmth and healing.
To further establish his high position, the Chief practiced a traditional act of discarding his wealth in front of other Chiefs. Much of this wealth was in the form of copper. To break the copper or throw it into the ocean, symbolized that he and his clan were modest of their wealth and that the value of friendship weighed more than the value of material wealth.
To assist the Chief with this historical display of modesty, a subordinate was appointed. The assistant is portrayed below the beak of the Eagle, carved in intricate detail, as one can see in the teeth and tongue of the human face. Another beautiful component of this piece are the Chief’s people, delicately cradled in the beak of the Eagle.
Elk hide, Sinew, Acrylic paint
The drum is considered one of the main percussive instruments, along with the rattle, which was used in traditional Northwest Coast ceremonies and cultural events. Its beat provides the basis from which dances, songs and oral histories are performed during a Potlatch.
The Thunderbird is a supernatural, mythical creature that lives high in the mountains and feeds on Killerwhale. It’s been aptly named for the thunder that rolls off its wings and lightening comes from its eyes when it flies.
Ivory, Abalone, Sterling silver, engraved
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Spoons and ladles were traditionally made from either cedar wood or the horn of a mountain sheep, and their handles were carved with family crest images. Historically, these exquisitely sculptured objects were primarily created by people in Northern Nations, and were highly sought after by other nations. During potlatches [festive gatherings], cedar ladles decorated with the hosting family’s crests were used to serve food, while the elaborately carved mountain sheep spoons were distributed as gifts among the many guests.
Today, spoon and ladle productions are based on these traditional objects and are meant to be both objects of function and display. In addition to traditional mediums such as cedar wood, goat or mountain sheep horn, many modern-day spoons and ladles are constructed of gold, silver and pewter.