Swan Spirit Transformation, 1999 by George Hunt Jr., Kwakwaka'wakw Nation
Drum Depicting Swan Spirit Transformation, 1999 by George Hunt Jr., Kwakwaka'wakw Nation hide, wood, feathers, copper, abalone, pigment 36" high x 36" wide x 10" deep
Original sculptural drum by George Hunt Jr., renowned Kwakwaka'wakw Nation artist from Campbell River, British Columbia. This spectacular work was created for George's 1999 solo exhibition at Quintana Galleries. The drum is accompanied by an intricately carved drum stick depicting a white raven. It can be wall mounted, or placed on its custom carved red cedar stand.
The origin story of the Swan Spirit comes from Harold Mountain, a Hereditary Chief from Village Island, British Columbia. In the beginning, there was a swan who transformed himself into a man near a place called Knight’s Inlet. The Village Islanders had occupied land there, so this is where swan chose to transform and start his tribe. There is a dance that the Mountain family owns and performs, which depicts this origin story. Today, the swan represents great beauty and elegance, and symbolizes bonds that last a lifetime.
In this depiction, the transformed man wears a Chilkat robe and headdress. This is a reference to George's Tlingit heritage, and honors his great-great-great grandmother Mary Ebbets Hunt (Anisalaga), 1823-1919, a high ranking Tlingit noblewoman who brought the northern style of Chilkat weaving south to the Kwakwaka'wakw people. The design on the back of the drum represents a black swan transforming into a noblewoman.
George Hunt Jr. is a Northwest Coast Kwakwaka’wakw Indian, born April 30, 1958 in Campbell River, British Columbia. His Kwakwaka’wakw name “Nas-u-niz” means Light Beyond the World, and he carries the traditional chief’s name Nagedzi-Yathlawalth, passed down from his grandfather Chief Tommy Hunt, to his father, Chief George Hunt Sr., and now to him. Hunt’s family lineage descends from the village of Fort Rupert on Vancouver Island. The family is rich in native Indian heritage including master carver Mungo Martin (step great grandfather), Henry Hunt (grand uncle) and Tony Hunt (uncle).
George began carving at the age of fourteen under the tutelage of his father, Chief George Hunt Sr., (Yalawa-Negegdz). After learning the basics of knife techniques, and some of the forms that make up Kwakwaka’wakw Art, George began an apprenticeship with his maternal grandfather, Sam Henderson.
George Hunt Jr. was initiated into the Hamatsa Society and began learning the inherited dance steps at age sixteen under his paternal grandfather, Chief Thomas Hunt.
This accomplished dancer works in acrylic on paper and canvas, limited edition serigraphs, cedar carvings, and painted drums fastened with cedar carved figures.
George’s original Kwakwaka’wakw works of art including totem poles, masks, silkscreen prints, and sculptural drums have been purchased for both public and private collections including The British Museum, The Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, The Burke Museum, Pendleton Woolen Mills, and The Seattle Art Museum.
A project George is particularly proud of is being selected as one of four original artists who created Pendleton Blankets for the American Indian College Fund’s Hope Project. George donated a special drawing based on a traditional Chilkat Blanket design in honor of his great-great-great grandmother, Tlingit noblewoman and renowned Chilkat Blanekt weaver, Mary Ebbets Hunt (Anishlaga).