This series was inspired by the masks of Northwest coast master carvers of the 19th and 20th centuries. I think of these oil paintings on canvas, as a collaboration between myself and these Native American artists of another time. Though their work is preserved in museum collections throughout the world, all too often their names have been forgotten over time. These contemporary paintings are my way of honoring the memory of these Native Indian master artists.
The masks, on which the paintings are based, are from collections in public institutions: such as the National Museum of the American Indian and the Museum of Civilization. (The Smithsonian Institution awarded me a Native Community Scholar Grant to research their collection.) In researching my aboriginal roots, I researched those collections, and photographed and worked with the artifacts personally. Years later, I came to see the creative freedom of canvas painting as a way of honoring those unnamed masters, and help expose their work to a contemporary audience.