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Sterling silver, Engraved
Only 1 available
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- Additional Information
- Artist Bio
Sterling silver, Engraved
|Dimensions||1 x 6.25 "|
Alvin Mack was born in Bella Coola, British Columbia in 1956 and is an accomplished and well-respected artist of the Nuxalk Nation. He is the last son of renowned carver William Mack and cites his father as one of his greatest influences. At the age of 13 he began to experiment with carving cedar and eventually became successful in producing quality monumental totem poles and ceremonial items containing traditional Nuxalk art forms.
Wanting to learn more, Alvin enrolled in ‘Ksan School of Northwest Coast Art, where he was taught under master carvers Earl Muldoe, Walter Harris, Vernon Stephens and Ken Mowatt, graduating at the top of his class in 1985.
Upon his return to Bella Coola, Alvin immersed himself in the culture of his Nuxalk ancestry, translating the Nuxalk mythology into every project. Mack considers creating art akin to culture, and sees no distinction between the two. He is passionate about his Nuxalk heritage and sees art as playing an essential role in keeping traditions alive and educating people about Nuxalk history.
Recognized for creating outstanding artworks in various mediums that are innovating Nuxalk traditional design, Alvin is highly regarded in the Nuxalk community and has mentored dozens of young artists through his work at the local Acwsalcta School. He has led many major projects in his community that can be seen in the beautiful valley of Bella Coola, B.C.
“I always go back to our history, and that history has so much lost information that needs to be rebuilt in our community. So the subject for me is to bring that history out: who we are, where we’re from, and we can let the world know ‘this is us’ through our art.”
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Sterling silver, Engraved
The Supernatural Log is more commonly referred to as Snag or Ts’Amos (Alternate spellings: Ttaamuus, Tsamaos). He is the personification of the seafaring Haidas’ obstacles while on the ocean in canoes; driftwood or deadheads. The Snag is an amorphous supernatural creature both in artwork and in legend and first appeared as a crest figure of families along the Skeena River. It is believed to have first appeared on jewelry designs by the famed Charles Edenshaw, whose father took the Snag as a crest.
A Snag can vary in appearance, much like the driftwood it imitates, but it almost always has a snag (deadhead) for a dorsal fin. It can be as simple as a dead log with a tail that can swim against the current. It can be a huge sea lion with dorsal fins and blowholes, or an enormous grizzly bear with a downturned mouth like a dogfish. It can be a hybrid of bear and Killerwhale, or raven and Killerwhale, with multiple bodies. It can be a large frog covered in seaweed with a snag sticking out of its back, and can even be a canoe or a schooner. Most visible at the change of tides, the Snag, if angered can breach and land on canoes, smashing them to bits. He also can make huge waves to capsize boats. The Snag was frequently featured as a protective figure on Bentwood Boxes that contained treasured artifacts, and is frequently depicted with Raven, its counterpart.
The Snag is a very important feature in the Haida legend of How the World Was Formed. Before there was the world as we know it, Raven was flying and flying and flying, and finally came to rest on a single rock, which was the tip of Haida Gwaii and the beginning of the world. This rock, was supported beneath (from the undersea world) by a stone house pole, which was in fact the fin of the Snag. It is therefore common to see the Raven and Snag in conjunction in Haida art. The Snag figure can be seen as an acceptance of responsibility for supporting the world, similar to the Atlas figure in Greek mythology.
It is believed the legends around the Snag was a warning for those who travelled by canoe to be more wary of their surroundings, especially at the change of the tides, and keep them alert on the water. When the tides change, deadheads and hidden logs or obstacles can suddenly appear and be a danger. As the Haida relied on trade with Mainland Nations to survive, it was pertinent for them to be adept at sea, paddling the vast distances to and from the islands to the coast.
Other works by this artist
Alder wood, Acrylic paint
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.