“These days Native art communicates to a visually well-informed, internet-age audience and I try to create work that underlines the relevance of Northwest Native art as a contemporary medium of expression.”
I am a multi-media Native artist, who does contemporary and traditional work. A professional artist for 29 years, I have worked in photography, painting, carving, jewelry and I have authored two books on Aboriginal culture. As a fifth generation Kwakiutl artist, I began by apprenticing with traditional artists from Alert Bay, where my father Dave Neel, Sr. grew up. I have also travelled internationally to study the art of my ancestors in museum collections around the world. I draw on my Kwakiutl heritage for my artistic direction: Dave Senior, a Fort Rupert Kwakiutl, was taught to carve by his mother, Ellen Neel, and her uncle, Mungo Martin; who both apprenticed with her great-grandfather, Charlie James. I use this artistic legacy as a foundation for my personal vision of contemporary Native art.
I have exhibited in a number of public institutions, including solo exhibitions at: the National Portrait Gallery of Canada; The Smithsonian Institution – NMAI; the Venice Biennale; my work is also represented in a number of public collections. Whatever medium I am working in, I strive to have a unique artistic approach based on my knowledge of traditional Northwest coast Native art. These days Native art communicates to a visually well-informed, internet-age audience and I try to create work that underlines the relevance of Northwest Native art as a contemporary medium of expression.
Funds from the Hnatyshyn Foundation’s Visual and Fine Craft category would help enable me to further expand my program of work as well as that of my ancestors.
David Neel is a multi-disciplinary artist from Kwakwak"awakw First Nation. He lives in North Vancouver, B.C.