Tsimshian carver Boxley guides students through art, history
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is wrapping up a week long carving class led by master carver David A. Boxley, whose work is a fixture at the center and has also been featured world wide.
Boxley, a Tsimshian artist and dance leader for the group Git-Hoan (People of the Salmon), grew up in Metlakatla and now lives in Seattle.
Boxley is well known for carving totem poles – he’s created more than 75, some in collaboration with his son, David R. Boxley – but this class focused on smaller items: spoons and bowls.
“Somebody, somewhere sitting on a beach back before there was electricity, back before there was down jackets, were carving these bowls,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is carry on – carry on that tradition.”
Paul Asicksik, the center’s cultural education manager, said Boxley taught 10 students who worked with alder to carve ceremonial potlatch bowls and spoons.
“It’s an eye-opener,” he said. “It opens up new possibility as far as learning how to carve with the grain, and what types of woods are used for different projects.
“We made a small bowl not much bigger than your hand. It takes patience, learning how to use an adze, a crooked knife and a straight knife. It gives you an appreciation of working with the wood.”
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