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Red Cedar wood, Acrylic paint
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- Additional Information
- Artist Bio
Red Cedar wood, Acrylic paint
|Dimensions||36 x 36 x 2"|
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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Bone, Abalone shell, Cedar bark, Woven Leather cord
Commonly used by a Shaman, soul catchers were used to cleanse human souls and spirits. If a person was sick, or perhaps possessed by a demon spirit, the soul catcher was used to coerce the evil spirit out of the body. The open ends were caped with cedar bark to hold the soul until it was cleansed and brought back from the spirit world. The healed soul of the recipient was then returned to the body by the Shaman by blowing through the soul catcher and into to the patient’s mouth.
The shape of the soul catcher is typically cut from animal bone in such a way that the ends are flared outward and the surface is carved with figures associated with the Shaman’s spirit guides. Spirit guides accompany the human spirit or soul on its transformative journey between worlds. The ends of the Soul Catcher were sealed to contain these spirits. They also protect the boundaries between the physical and spiritual world, keeping those involved in the healing ceremony safe from evil minded spirits and beings. The symmetrical arrangement of the figures essentially defines objects of this type and the figures tend to more sculptural in appearance.
Soul catchers are extremely powerful and respected healing instruments; because of this, they were often housed in special bentwood boxes to keep them safe.
Soul Catcher: 1.5 x 9.25 x 1.5″
Including Stand: 2.75 x 9.25 x 3″
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.