Howkan Whale, 1986
by Bill Holm (1925-2020), non-indigenous
framed silkscreen, edition 212/250
28" tall x 26.5" wide
This silkscreen was created in 1986 to commemorate Bill Holm's carving of a replica of a grave monument in Howkan, Alaska called the Howkan Whale. He carved this replica for the Burke Museum in Seattle, WA. The original Haida Howkan Whale carving was commissioned around 1880 by Moses Koohl-Keet as a memorial to his uncle, head of Brown Bear House, a branch of the Kaigani Haida Nation. Then Curator Emeritus at the Burke Museum, Bill Holm carved the replica based on photographs of the Howkan Whale, and on the original fin which is in the Burke Museum's ethnology collection on the University of Washington Campus in Seattle, Washington.
Oscar William "Bill" Holm Jr. (24 March 1925 – 16 December 2020) was an American art historian and author, focused on Indigenous Northwest Coast art. He created artworks and taught Northwest Coast style, including formline design. He was Professor Emeritus of Art History, and Curator Emeritus of Northwest Coast Indian Art at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and occasionally lectured at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Holm's 1965 book Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form has for decades been the standard introductory text in the field. In its 18th printing, the 50th-anniversary edition, with new commentary, was published in 2014.