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Spruce Tree Mask by Simon James, Kwakwaka'wakw

Regular price $2,400.00 Sale

Mask depicting Spruce Tree, 1999
by Simon James, Kwakwaka'wakw
red cedar, cedar bark, pigment
33” high x 12” wide x 8” deep

The Spruce Mask is danced in the Winter Atlakim Ceremony or the Dance of the Forest Spirits. The dance depicts the story of a young boy who went into the forest to catch a Grouse for his disapproving father, in hopes his father would praise him. He caught a Grouse, but it was a mythical forest creature, and the grouse negotiated that if the boy let him go he would intorduce him to all of the creatures of the forest. One by one, Grouse call the forest creatures to dance. The first creature to dance is Spruce Tree. In the old ceremonies, over 40 creatures were called to dance. 

The carver of this mask, Simon Daniel James, is the son of Kwakwaka'wakw carver and keeper of tradition Simon Dick, who is widely considered the greatest living Grouse dancer of the Kwakwaka'wakw. The Grouse Mask and The Spruce Mask are often carved as a pair of masks. Simon Dick became famous for his carved Grouse masks, so Simon James felt it was important to become known for his Spruce Tree masks. 

Simon Daniel James was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia in February of 1969. James is the son of well known Kwakwaka’wakw artist, Simon Dick.  He was given the native name of "Winadzi" (Raider) by his grandfather, Chief James Aul Sewid.  At a young age he moved with his mother and sister to Campbell River.  James began drawing in elementary school and carving wood at the age of fifteen. He has also been painting and sculpting since 1995. In September of 1996 he moved to North Vancouver to attend Film school; studying classical animation and three-dimensional animation. 

James is interested in helping to educate the native youth, passing down knowledge that was given to him and following in the footsteps of his forefathers.  His work draws strength from his cultural beliefs and the rich history of the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples.  The art James creates is a continuance of the stories that were told to him by his father and grandfather.  

“I started drawing at a young age and was always fascinated by the artistic styling of my people.  I worked hard and learned much from my father and other carvers such as Wayne Alfred, Beau Dick, Max Chickite and Patrick Logan.  I believe strongly in my culture and practice several culturally beneficial ways for myself and the next generation to learn from. I am a dancer, writer and story teller, through these I hope that the children that follow will not forget where they come from and continue with the culture and traditions that I was taught by my ancestors before me.

It is my wish to continue to sing, dance, carve, paint and tell stories to educate the younger generation as my ancestors did before me. I still have so much to learn but I am willing to do so for myself, family and next generation after me. Long after I am gone my works and impressions that I leave will allow me to continue to live on for as long as people enjoy that what I have given.” - Simon James

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