Svanvik, Don

Don Svanvik, originating from Alert Bay, born 1958 is a very well known and liked master carver. His grandparents were imprisoned for participating in a potlatch in the 1920's. Many of the masks and ceremonial objects at the time were confiscated and became part of the collection of several museums including the Canadian Museum of Civilization- Many of the same objects have since been returned to Alert Bay after the construction of the U'Mista Cultural Center. Don's father is from Swedish descent, married to his mother Alice Whonnock from Alert Bay.

Don witnessed potlatches throughout his life, he assisted the dancers and helped out during the overall preparation. He himself began carving ceremonial pieces and has received numerous commissions for masks to be danced at potlatches. Don began carving in 1984 under the guidance of Beau Dick. His earliest influence was Sam Johnson. His advise to carve anything you want as long as you know what it is and how it is used. Don has applied these guidelines to every piece that he carves.

He has also worked with Wayne Alfred, Sandy Johnson, Bruce Alfred, Harold Alfred, Doug Cranmer and Calvin Hunt , including many commissioned pieces such as totem poles. The experience of working with so many artists has given Don many different viewpoints towards approaching and understanding Kwakwaka'wakw art.

Bukwus Mask with horse hair, Don Svanvik

Bukwus Mask with horse hair, Don Svanvik

Bukwus Mask by Don Svanvik, Kwakwakaw'wakw First Nation


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