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 Joe David  (1946 - )

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Lived/Active: British Columbia/Washington / Canada      Known for: painting, printmaking, sculpture, carving, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
Joe  David
Haida Noble Woman with Labret (portrait mask) - alder, acrylic, operculum, dated 1992 - Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Joe David (1946)
A prominent Canadian painter, printmaker, sculptor, carver and educator, Joe David was born in Opitsat, British Columbia (Meares Island on Vancouver Island’s west coast). He has lived and worked in Seattle, Washington; Olympia, Washington; San Marcos, Texas; and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Attached below are biographies courtesy of The Canadian Encyclopedia; the Vancouver Art Gallery; and Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver.
From The Canadian Encyclopedia (online), author, Carol Sheehan
Joe David, Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka or Westcoast) artist (b at Opitsat, BC 1946). A member of the Clayoquot Band, Joe David is a leading figure in modern Northwest Coast Native Art. Inspired by the arts of the Clayoquot people from childhood, and in particular by his father Hyacinth David Sr, a carver and painter, he studied in Seattle and apprenticed with Duane Pasco, a non-native Northwest Coast artist.

In later years his cousin Ron Hamilton (Hupquatchew) inspired him to take an interest in all aspects of his culture. David's works are found in international public and private collections, including the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Royal British Columbia Museum and the UBC Museum of Anthropology. A carver of exquisite poles and masks, an accomplished singer and dancer in Nuu-chah-nulth ceremonial occasions, Joe David is also known for his innovative serigraphs (silk screen prints).

From The Vancouver Art Gallery (abridged), Vancouver, British Columbia
Joe David was born in Opitsat on Vancouver Island.  A member of the Clayoquot band, David has become an important figure in Northwest Coast Native Art.  As a child, David left his village and moved to Seattle where he had less contact with his West Coast background. David was always intrigued by his Native culture and as a young man returned to Vancouver Island to study carving with noted Northwest carvers, Duane Pasco and Bill Holm.

David returned to Washington to teach carving at Evergreen State College and at the Centrum Foundation in Olympia, where he started carving workshops for Native students.  In 1974 David's work was recognized on the international stage when he carved a 25 foot totem pole for the British Columbia Pavillion at Expo '74 in Spokane.

David returned to British Columbia shortly after and began receiving high profile commissions, including an entrance pole with Bill Reid [see AskART], and carvings for the Royal British Columbia Museum and B.C. Ferries.

In 1997 British Airways selected David to create a work for their "World Images" campaign and an image derived from this work was reproduced on five of their passenger jets.

From The Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia:
Joe David was born in 1946 at Opitsaht [correct alternate spelling], a Clayoquot village on Meares Island, on the western shore of Vancouver Island. The family resettled to Seattle, Washington, in 1958—and they moved frequently during his teen years. His father, Hyacinth David, was a respected chief and elder of the Clayoquot nation, and even though he had removed his family from Nuu-chah-nulth territory, he remained connected to the village and practiced the traditional values and ceremonies.

Joe vividly recalls watching the ceremonies he attended as a child. His grandmother was a medicine-woman who predicted that Joe would become an artist while he was still an infant. Both his father and mother had been initiated in the (Klukwana) Wolf ritual. In 1969, he received from his father’s family the name “Ka-Ka-Win- Chealth” (Supernatural White Wolf transforming into Killerwhale), in recognition of his commitment to carving and cultural participation. Joe expanded the cultural teachings started by his father by visiting museums and libraries and studying Nuu-chah-nulth art and culture.

He studied art in Seattle and San Marcos, Texas, but his interest in his own heritage and tradition led him to Bill Holm, the Northwest Coast scholar at the University of Washington, and also to Duane Pasco, an early artist of the contemporary generation of Northwest Coast art, to begin an intensive study of traditional Northwest Coast objects. His later investigations concentrated on only Nuu-chah-nulth style. He was drawn to the spiritual essence within the art and culture—and this later directed his path in art-making. Joe began a spiritual quest starting with his own cultural beliefs, which later led him to the practices of other nations across North America and internationally. He has had a long-term relationship with the Maori of New Zealand and has attended and participated in many events there. In 1988, he participated in the Sundance ceremonies at Camp Anna Mae, Big Mountain, Arizona, and has continued to attend each year —and, with rare exception, has often been one of the participants.

Joe David today is among the most respected master-artists of the Northwest Coast. Museums, private collectors, and corporations collect his graphics, wood sculpture, silver, and bronze internationally. He is also dedicated to participating and contributing to contemporary ceremonies as well as lecturing on Northwest Coast art. In 2000, he was the first artist chosen for the Aboriginal Artist in Residence program at the Pilchuck Glass School.

Additional sources:
The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

Northwest Coast Native and Native-Style Art: A Guidebook for Western Washington (1995), by Lloyd J.Averill and Daphne K. Morris (see AskART book references)

Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast (1979), by Hilary Stewart (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

Art Gallery of Ontario (catalogue summaries online)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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