Contemporary Kwakiutl Artists
Our culture is kept alive through all those who learn something of the old ways: our language, our songs and myths, our dances. It finds expression in the delicate art of weaving, or in the power and thrill of canoeing on the open water. It is refreshed every time we share food resources and every time we celebrate and potlatch. It is evident in the Elders who are in our presence. And it is most visible in the many carvers, printmakers and jewellers who, schooled in the Kwakiutl tradition, continue to make art for a modern culture. Their work is sought by collectors around the world.
The following artists have submitted bios for this web site.
Verna Edwina Hunt Chartrand was born in Campbell River, British Columbia in April19, 1954. Verna is Kwakiutl and is from T’sakis (Fort Rupert, BC).
Verna’s mother is Mildred Hunt (1). Mildred’s parents were Lottie Price, who was born in Village Island, and Tom Price who was from Cape Mudge (2). Verna’s father’s was Edwin Hunt (deceased, Kwakiutl) who was the youngest son of Alice and Johnathon Hunt (Abusa and Odi). Verna spent her childhood in Cape Mudge, and has spent most of her teenage and adult years in the Fort Rupert area.
Verna does stain glass, mosaic art, and Chilkat weaving. She began working with glass a few years ago, when she took a class that was being given by Maria, from North Island Glass. During the past years she has completed a number of stain glass and mosaic pieces.
Verna began to learn how to Chilkat weave as an apprentice in approximately 2000 with Donna Cramner. She has also been instructed in Chilkat weaving by Willie White in January of 2005, and has completed a Chilkat Ghost Bag.
Verna’s great-great grandmother was Mary Ebbets (Anisalaga). Mary Ebbets (Anislaga) was Tlingit and married Robert Hunt, and it is because of this relation that Verna has the right to weave and wear Chilkat.
1 Mildred’s maiden name is Price, and Mildred is originally from Cape Mudge, British Columbia.
2 Price was Lottie’s married name.
Mervin was born September 2, 1955. He was named after his paternal grandfather from Bristol, England. His Kwakiutl name is “Gaxastalas” (Breakfast Giver) from the house of “Negadzi Yatlawath.”
Early childhood memories of the ceremonies, at the Mungo Martin House in Victoria affected Mervin and left him with a passion for his (Kwakiutl) culture. Mervyn began carving masks in red cedar as a hobby in his early life, and in 1984 began a formal apprenticeship at the “Coppermaker Gallery” (Tlakwagila) in Fort Rupert, BC. At this time the primary medium was wood with emphasis put on copyism.
Eventually, the broad dictates of Kwakiutl culture would unfold allowing room for creativity and individualism. The success of the Coppermaker would provide a broad range of opportunities, from carving small masks to large totem poles including replications and restoration work. His work has been exhibited in many art shows throughout North America and Europe.
Mervyn, under the tutelage of his Uncle Calvin has also been involved in the building of many canoes and beginning in 1993 and continuing through to the present has participated in numerous canoe journeys. When asked how he feels about his canoe experiences, Mervyn states, “I like canoes.”
CHIEF TLASUTIWALIS, KWAGU'L, FORT RUPERT HEREDITARY CHIEF NA-SOOM-YEES, MOWOCHAHT, FRIENDLY COVE
Born in 1956 into a wealth of traditional values, Calvin started woodcarving Northwest Coast Indian art at the age of 12. From 1972 to 1981, Calvin carved full time as an apprentice with Tony Hunt, Sr. (1) Moving to his ancestral home of Fort Rupert in 1981, Calvin and his wife, Marie, opened their carving workshop "The Copper Maker." In 1989, the workshop doubled in size and the retail art gallery "Kwakiutl Art of the Copper Maker Gallery" opened. The prophesy of the gallery's name has come true as he now has three full time artists at the workshop (2).
In May 1988, he carved and raised the Hunt Pole in Fort Rupert (3). With the assistance of his brothers, nephews and cousins, he also carved a memorial grave figure for his father at the Fort Rupert cemetery. These poles were the first such poles raised in the village in approximately seventy years.
With the resurgence of canoe building in 1993, Calvin and his nephew, Mervyn Child, carved a 32' Northern Style canoe that represented the Kwakiutl Nation at "Quatuwas" canoe gathering in Bella Bella. This canoe was named "Maxwalaogwa" after his mother, belongs to the Maxwalaogwa Canoe Society that was formed by Calvin and his wife, Marie. Calvin, with Mervy’s assistance, has also carved the 32' Northern Style "I-Hos", and 40' Northern Style "Ugwamalis Gixdan.” He has helped with the carving of a Munka canoe, and a 37' West Coast Style canoe from Quatsino. Calvin and Mervyn Child are currently carving a Head Canoe.
In 1995, during a potlatch given by Calvin and his brother, Ross Hunt Sr., Calvin received his Chief's name, Tlasutiwalis, from his wife's side of the family. In July of 1998 he was seated as the fourth primary Chief of the Mowachaht; the Hereditary Chieftainship, which belonged to his grandfather, Dr. Billy, of Tsuwana (Friendly Cove), his Chief s name being "Nas soom yees".
Calvin continues his work in Northwest Coast Indian Art work, working in wood, including canoe building; original silk-screened prints, gold and silver jewelry, and stone carving.
More information can be found at www.calvinhunt.com.
1 Calvin carved with Tony Hunt Sr. at The Arts of the Raven Gallery, Victoria, BC.
2 The Copper is a symbol of wealth.
3 The pole is hereditarily owned by his oldest brother, George Hunt Sr.
Jason Hunt was born in Victoria in 1973 and is of Kwaguilth descent, from the village of Fort Rupert, near Port Hardy B.C. on Vancouver Island.
After graduating from high school in 1991, Jason went on to pursue his post secondary education in the field of business administration at Camosun College. It was during the summer break of 1994, after completing his third year that Jason became intrigued with his family's artistic heritage.
Jason was in the process of seeking summer employment when he decided to visit his father, Kwaguilth artist Stan Hunt. While watching his father design and carve traditional pieces Jason became more interested in the craft. When he tried to carve he found he had a natural connection that has been passed down through generations of the Hunt Family. Jason's lineage strongly influenced his decision to expand his knowledge of his family's artistic history and under the tutelage of his father Jason began to explore the distinct culture and art form of the Kwaguilth people.
Jason strives to maintain the integrity and authenticity of his work by being well versed on the significance of each piece. Jason is prepared to offer explanations of his work with reference to the meaning and the legends behind each of the figures he incorporates into his work. Out of respect for traditional methods, Jason limits the use of power tools to rough out his work and knife finishes his work as opposed to using sandpaper. He plans to continue enhancing his skills and knowledge under the direction of his father and hopes to move on to larger pieces with his goal being the completion of his first totem pole.
Richard Hunt was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia in 1951. Richard is Kwakiutl and is from T’sakis (Fort Rupert, BC). Richard Hunt's Kwakwala name is highly appropriate, considering his accomplishments. Gwe-la-yo-gwe-la-gya-lis means “A man that travels and wherever he goes, he potlatches." Through his art, his speaking and his dancing, Mr. Hunt has indeed given much to the world.
Richard’s mother was Helen Hunt (1). Richard comes from a family of internationally respected artists, which include his father Henry Hunt, his grandfather Mungo Martin, as well as his brothers, and his cousins (2). He has lived most of his life in Victoria, where he completed his high school education. He began carving with his father, the late Henry Hunt, at the age of thirteen.
In 1973, Richard began work at the Royal British Columbia Museum as an apprentice carver under his father. The following year he assumed the duties of chief carver in the Thunderbird Park Carving Program. Richard continued in this role for twelve years. In 1986, Mr. Hunt resigned to begin a new career as a freelance artist.
“I was thirteen," Richard says, "when I decided that I wanted to be a carver. My brothers and I had gone berry-picking in Saanich to make money. I dreamt of berries all that night, and woke up the next morning knowing that I wanted to be a carver like my dad. My mother told me to go and learn from my father, and that's how I started, making little paddles and masks. It was a hobby that turned into a way of making an income through my school years. The more I carved, the more I realised that what I was carving came from my culture. That is why I believe that what I create is cultural art.
I would like to thank the Royal British Columbia Museum and Peter Macnair who gave me the opportunity of working with my father, which was my dream come true. Since leaving the Museum, I've had a great time creating things that I love. What a way to go through life, doing something that you love and own.”
In 1991, Richard Hunt received the Order of British Columbia “… In recognition of serving with the greatest distinction and excellence in a field of endeavor benefiting the people of the Province of British Columbia and elsewhere.” This prominent award program was established in 1990. Richard is the first Native artist to be so recognized.
In 1994, Richard received the most prestigious award of his career, The Order of Canada. “The Order was established in 1967 as a means of recognizing outstanding achievement, honouring those who have given services to Canada, to their fellow citizens or to humanity at large."
In 2002, Richard received the Golden Jubilee Medal, the approved creation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in honour of her 50th anniversary of Her accession to the Throne, and presented to citizens of Canada "who have demonstrated exceptional qualities and outstanding service to their country".
In May 2004, Richard was accepted into the membership of the Royal Academy of the Arts in recognition for his outstanding achievements within the visual arts.
In June 2004, Richard received an Honourary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria. This prestigious award has a special meaning to Richard because his late father, Henry Hunt was awarded the same degree in 1983. More information about Richard can be found at www.richardhunt.com.
1 Helen’s maiden name was Nelson, and she was from Kingcome.
2 Henry Hunt, and Mungo Martin were both Kwakiutl.
Stan Hunt comes from a Kwagiulth family from Fort Rupert, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. His grandfather, Mungo Martin, is widely credited with saving Kwagiulth art from extinction in the early part of the century. His father, Henry Hunt, was a renowned master carver who worked at the Royal British Columbia Provincial Museum in Victoria for many years. His older brothers, Tony and Richard Hunt, are among the leading artists in the Kwagiulth form.
Stan was born in Victoria on September 25th, 1954 while his father was working for the museum. Mungo Martin provided the link with tradition for the family; from his songs sung around the kitchen table to the extravagant ceremonies of the potlatch. After Stan, at the age of ten, danced as a Hamatsa for the first time, he became more involved in the rituals of his people. When Stan was younger he carved toy boats and canoes.
In 1976 he went to see his father Henry in his carving shed and asked if he too could be a carver. His father replied, "the first thing you have to do is make your own tools." Stan spent the next three years learning knife techniques and carving plaques for the Victoria tourist trade. He also assisted his father in the carving of six totem poles. Stan's interpretation of the Kwagiulth style is starkly traditional. No power tools or sandpaper are used. Only the traditional tools, the adze, curved knife and straight knife are used. The images are original but with traditional roots in stories of the Kwagiulth people; images passed down from one generation to the next.
Stephen K. Hunt was born on December 14, 1962 in Victoria, B.C. Stephen is Kwakiutl and lives in T’sakis (Fort Rupert, British Columbia).
Stephen is the son of Mary Hunt and George Hunt (Kwakiutl) (1). Mary’s parents were Sam and May Henderson, and George’s parents were Thomas and Emma Hunt.
Stephen received instruction from his oldest brother, George Hunt Jr., at the Coppermaker Workshop in Fort Rupert. He enjoys woodcarving and painting on paper.
1 Mary Hunt’s maiden name is Henderson. Mary’s family is part of the Campbell River Band.
The son of Hereditary Chief George Hunt and Mary Hunt, Tom D. Hunt is a member of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation who was born in Victoria in 1964. Tom began apprenticing in Kwakwaka'wakw art with his father at the age of twelve and later worked with his brother George Hunt Jr. When entering his teenage years Tom spent several summers in Campbell River working with his maternal grandfather the late Sam Henderson. During that stage of his development of Kwakwaka'wakw art style, Tom learned the artistic style of the 'Nakwaxda'xw Nation (Blunden Harbour).
In 1983 he moved to his home village of Fort Rupert (Tsaxis) on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. There he worked as an assistant to his Uncle Calvin Hunt, owner and operator of the Copper Maker Gallery. This apprenticeship was an important period in Tom's development as a versatile and accomplished artist. Tom has also been an assistant carver to Susan Point on several of her large sculptures. He moves comfortably from massive wood sculptures to very small, intricate pieces.
Trevor Hunt was born March 9, 1975. He is part of the great Hunt Family of Fort Rupert on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Trevor comes from a long line of hereditary carvers and artists that have been instrumental in the survival of the Kwakiutl art form on the Northwest Coast. Trevor’s father is Stan Hunt. His grandparents were Helen Hunt and Henry Hunt (Kwakiutl) (1). Trevor’s great-grandfather was Mungo Martin (2).
Trevor has been painting original graphic interpretations of Kwakiutl myths and stories since he was 10 years old. In 1997, Trevor began carving in wood under the tutelage of his father, Stan Hunt and his brother, Jason Hunt. His teachers include Tim Alfred and David Knox.
He has recently completed a 38-foot painting of a Killerwhale on the roof of a resort in Telegraph, B.C., and also designed the logo for the Thunderbird Shopping Plaza in Port Hardy, B.C.
In 1994, Trevor was chosen to be published after a nation wide search for young artists. In 1995, Trevor designed the logo for the Kwakiutl District Counsel. In 1996, Trevor published 4 limited edition prints.
Trevor currently lives in Fort Rupert, the traditional home of the Kwakiutl people, with his wife and 2 children. He continues to study the Kwakiutl art form.
1 Helen’s maiden name was Nelson, and she was from Kingcome.
2 Mungo Martin was Kwakiutl.
Johnny Michael James Joseph was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia in May 13, 1957. Johnny is Kwakiutl and feels that he is not from one single place as he has family from many different areas. Johnny was given a hamatsa from James Wadhams.
Johnny’s mother is Wata (1); whose parents were Mary Whonnok (Big Mum, Kwakiutl), and James Wadhams (Kwakiutl). Johnny’s father is Leonard Joseph who was from Village Island. Leonard’s parents were Harry Joseph (Village island), and Daisy Joseph (2). Johnny has four children James Micheal Thomas Joseph, Kristen Laurel Vanessa Joseph, Micheal James Joseph, and Johnny Micheal Joseph.
Johnny has lived most of his life in Alert Bay. Johhny has been logging, fishing and has worked in a hatchery, as well as a couple of mills.
Johnny mirror etches, and carves. Loyd Wadhams, Leonard Joseph, and Gordon Twance along with others were Johnny’s major influences. Leonard Joseph Jr. taught Johnny by doing the outline of a design for him and would get Johnny to fill in the inner design.
Johnny says that the Hunt family influenced “me lots and sort of started me off;” noteworthy to Johnny are Alec Hunt, and Henry Hunt. When talking about his art Johnny said that, “I believe in what I believe and that is our culture.”
1 Wata’s English name is Christine Joseph, her maiden name is Wadhams.
2 Daisy’s maiden name was Dick.
David Mungo Knox is Kwakiutl. David’s parents are Mable Knox, and Pete Knox. Mable is from the Louis family of New Vanoouver. Pete is from the Martin family, but was adopted and raised by Helen Knox (1) and Mr. Knox (2).
David apprenticed under his Uncle, Master carver, Tony Hunt Sr. and cousin Tom Hunt. He is the great grandson of Master carver Mungo Martin.
David insists on preserving the unique Kwakiutl artistic style by respectfully upholding his cultural traditions. He works in many different mediums, carving in both red and yellow cedar. He also carves and designs his own drums that he uses in the dance and songs of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation.
1 Helen’s maiden name was Wilson, and she was Kwakiutl.
2 Mr. Knox’s Kwakiutl name was Wo’tsa, and he may have been from Gilford.
Christopher Lawrence Lines was born in Victoria, BC on October 23, 1976. Christopher is Kwakiutl and he currently resides in Fort Rupert, British Columbia.
Chris’s mother is Dorothy Hunt. Dorothy’s parents were Helen Hunt, and Henry Hunt (Kwakiutl) (1). Christopher’s father’s name is Larry Lines. Christopher’s grandparents on his father’s side were Kimi Lines and Cecil Lines. He has lived much of his life in Alert Bay.
Christopher is a Contemporary Kwakiutl Carver. Chris began learning how to carve in 1998, and started carving fulltime in 2003. Chris has carved with his Uncle Stanly Clifford Hunt, his two sons Jason Hunt and Trevor Hunt, Richard Hunt, and David Knox. Chris uses a mixture of both traditional and non-traditional tools, but says, “I prefer to use traditional tools the majority of the time.”
1 Helen Hunt’s maiden name was Nelson, and she was from Kingcome.
Lawrence Scow was born in 1958 into the Kwakiutl Nation located at Fort Rupert. Although he was born into a long line of carvers, Laurence did not start carving until later in life. He began carving in 1985, inspired by the work of Bill Wilson and Larry Hunt. His attention to detail and elegant lines makes each piece a complete work of art.
He mainly carves bent boxes, paddles, plaques and panels and likes to inlay a lot of Abalone into his work. He also has completed a number of Totems and Talking sticks.
Rita Hunt was born in Campbell River British Columbia in December, 1951. Rita is Kwakiutl and is from T’sakis (Fort Rupert, BC).
Rita’s mother is Mildred Hunt (maiden name was Price) from Cape Mudge, whose father was Tom Price (Cape Mudge). Rita’s father’s was Edwin Hunt (deceased, Kwakiutl) who was the youngest son of Alice and Johnathon Hunt (Abusa and Odi). Rita spent her childhood in Cape Mudge, and has spent most of her teenage and adult years in Fort Rupert or Mission, British Columbia.
Thomas Edward Wilson was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia on September 10, 1960. Thomas is Kwakiutl, and lives in T’sakis (Fort Rupert, British Columbia). Thomas has lived in Fort Rupert for most of his life, and has lived in Alert Bay for a period of two years.
Thomas’ mother is Dolores Wilson (1) whose parents were Emma Dawson and Andrew Dawson (Kingcome). Thomas’ father was Chief Thomas Edward Wilson Sr. who was from T’sakis; his parents were Chief Robert Wilson (Kwakiutl), and Annie Wilson (2). Thomas will receive his father’s chieftainship the next time his family potlatches.
Thomas is married to Paula Wilson (3) and has three children, whose names are Derek Wilson, Darren Wilson, and Selina Wilson (who was named after Thomas’ late sister). Thomas would like to pass down what he has learned artistically to his children, as his children all like to draw.
Thomas mirror etches, as well as practices wood burning. Thomas’ father (Chief Thomas Sr.) taught him the art of drawing seine boats. Thomas has also worked a bit with Ernest Jacobson on mirror etching. Ernest Jacobson was “the one who got me into mirror etching,” Thomas says. He also states that, “I’m just starting to get into my culture now, and I’d like to further my artwork.”
1 Dolores’ maiden name is Dawson and her family is from Kingcome.
2 Annie’s maiden name was Martin and she was Kwakiutl.
3 Paula’s maiden name is Condo, Paula is Kwakiutl.