Bill Henderson: Making Wood Talk
Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Vancouver BC June 7-27, 2008
Bill Henderson (Kwakwaka'wakw), Pugwis with Kingfisher (2008), red cedar and cedar bark [Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, Vancouver BC, Jun 7-27]
Kwakwaka'wakw artist Bill Henderson began carving in 1957 at only eight years of age. He was one of seventeen children taught by his father, Sam Henderson Senior, an eminent Nak'waxda'xw Master Carver.
Henderson advances the legacy of his family and the cultural traditions of his people by actively working in the arts, visiting schools, teaching others, and hosting tours of his carving shed. He continually invents new masks, plaques, wall panels, canoes, paddles and his infamous totem poles, which range in size from two to forty-two feet tall.
In his first solo exhibit, Making Wood Talk, Henderson demonstrates his mastery of red and yellow cedar. The Inuit Gallery is exhibiting pieces created in his instantly recognizable style, including a transformation mask, a totem pole, a talking stick and many other extraordinary masks. His captivating works are created with traditional tools that he makes himself.
Bill Henderson was initiated into the sacred Hamatsa society in 1983. The Hamatsa or "Cannibal Dancers" induct only the highest-ranking Kwakiutl. Henderson has also been instrumental in reviving the potlatch, a celebration involving displays of family wealth through feasting, dancing, storytelling, and gift-giving with dancers often wearing masks created by Henderson. As a result, he is considered a vital contributor to the renaissance of the Northwest Coast communities. His artwork is featured in prestigious galleries throughout North America, Japan, France, England and Germany.