About seventy-five Haida artists are currently working in the Haida art tradition both at home, on Haida Gwaii, and in Canadian west-coast city centres, such as Vancouver, Victoria and Prince Rupert. A growing international market for the work of contemporary Haida art is making it feasible for more and more young Haida people to explore their skills in carving, painting, weaving and design. More importantly, after having experienced a decline over three generations, Haida art is once again becoming an integral part of community life.
Haida artists are keeping the spirit of Haida Gwaii alive.

"Art is a gift from the spirit world.We all have the ability to visualize:
that is our connection to the spirit world."
-Robert Davidson, 1993
About seventy-five Haida artists are currently working in the Haida art tradition both at home, on Haida Gwaii, and in Canadian west-coast city centres, such as Vancouver, Victoria and Prince Rupert. A growing international market for the work of contemporary Haida art is making it feasible for more and more young Haida people to explore their skills in carving, painting, weaving and design. More importantly, after having experienced a decline over three generations, Haida art is once again becoming an integral part of community life.
Haida artists are keeping the spirit of Haida Gwaii alive.

"Art is a gift from the spirit world.We all have the ability to visualize:
that is our connection to the spirit world."
-Robert Davidson, 1993

© 1998, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Sculpture

Guujaaw at work on Raven and the First Men, sculpture in yellow cedar by Bill Reid, 1979.

Sculpture: Bill Reid, Photo: Gitsga
c. 1979
© Gitsga


Jade Sculpture

Spirit of Haida Gwaii; The Jade Canoe by Bill Reid.

Sculpure: Bill Reid, Photo: Bill McLennan
Photography Library of U.B.C. Museum of Anthroplogy

© Photography Library of U.B.C. Museum of Anthroplogy


Silkscreen

Every Year the Salmon Come Back; silkscreen by Robert Davidson.

Robert Davidson
Haida Gwaii Museum at Qay'llnagaay

© Haida Gwaii Museum at Qay'llnagaay


With the return of different ceremonies on Haida Gwaii, has come a need for accessories carrying appropriate symbols to indicate office and clan membership.
With the return of different ceremonies on Haida Gwaii, has come a need for accessories carrying appropriate symbols to indicate office and clan membership.

© 1998, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Chiefs

Haida chiefs at launch of Lootaas, Haida canoe carved by Bill Reid.

Photo: Jackie Gjissen
U.B.C. Museum of Anthroplogy photo collection

© U.B.C. Museum of Anthroplogy photo collection


Blanket

Joyce Bennett modeling cedar bark hat and one of many of the button blankets she has made.

Photo: Sandra Price

© Sandra Price


Haida Chief

Haida chiefs at launch of Lootaas, Haida canoe carved by Bill Reid.

Photo: Jackie Gjissen
U.B.C. Museum of Anthroplogy photo collection

© U.B.C. Museum of Anthroplogy photo collection


button blankets

1997 Skidegate graduates display their button blankets.

Photo: Sandra Price

© Sandra Price


Haida artist Robert Davidson and Terri-Lynn Williams were united in a Haida wedding ceremony in 1996.
Haida artist Robert Davidson and Terri-Lynn Williams were united in a Haida wedding ceremony in 1996.

© 1998, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

procession

Button Blanket procession at Robert Davidson and Terri-Lyn Williams' wedding.

Photo: Sandra Price

© Sandra Price


Canoes

Canoes at Robert Davidson and Terri-Lyn Williams' wedding.

Photo: Rolf Bettner

© Rolf Bettner


Potlatches and feasts have been held in greater and greater numbers over the past 15 years. Potlatches serve to uphold traditional Haida laws and the transfer of inherited rights and property. Guests, sometimes a thousand or more, are invited by the host of a potlatch to commemorate a significant occasion, such as the passing on of a chief's title and property, a marriage, or a memorial to honour someone who has died. By honouring their invitations, guests validate the claims and actions of the potlatch host and are compensated with feasting and gifts. Many of the elaborate Haida artistic traditions, including wood and metal carving, songs, dance and theatre, weaving and button blankets, developed around the potlatch.

Several potlatches in Old Massett have resulted in new family crest poles being raised to commemorate the passing on of chieftainship. Memorial poles have been raised to honour the passing of clan leaders.
Potlatches and feasts have been held in greater and greater numbers over the past 15 years. Potlatches serve to uphold traditional Haida laws and the transfer of inherited rights and property. Guests, sometimes a thousand or more, are invited by the host of a potlatch to commemorate a significant occasion, such as the passing on of a chief's title and property, a marriage, or a memorial to honour someone who has died. By honouring their invitations, guests validate the claims and actions of the potlatch host and are compensated with feasting and gifts. Many of the elaborate Haida artistic traditions, including wood and metal carving, songs, dance and theatre, weaving and button blankets, developed around the potlatch.

Several potlatches in Old Massett have resulted in new family crest poles being raised to commemorate the passing on of chieftainship. Memorial poles have been raised to honour the passing of clan leaders.

© 1998, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

pole

Pole carved by Jim Hart at Yan.

Photo: Christian White

© Christian White


Pole

Totem pole carved by Reg Davidson being raised at Chief Dadens Memorial Potlatch, 1991.

Photo: Tom Greene Sr.

© Tom Greene Sr.


Pole

Totem pole carved by Reg Davidson being raised at Chief Dadens Memorial Potlatch, 1991.

Photo: Tom Greene Sr.

© Tom Greene Sr.


Dancer

John Davidson dancing at Chief Dadens Memorial Potlatch, 1991.

Photo: Rolf Bettner

© Rolf Bettner


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the importance of art to the Haida people, with examples of how it is integrated into everyday life
  • Describe elements of Haida art, using examples
  • Identify inspirations for Haida art
  • Name modern day Haida artists

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