"Native Indian tradition is a foundation to build upon, not a boundary to restrain creativity," David Neel.
A traditional Northwest Native Indian artist for 30 years, Neel began his career as a professional photographer, but chose to follow in his family's footsteps, and apprenticed with master Northwest Native carvers in the 1980's. He then went on to carve traditional Native dance masks, totems poles and dug-out canoes, although he is best known for his Native American masks which deal with contemporary political, environmental and Native issues.
His work has been exhibited in numerous public institutions, including the solo exhibitions at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the National Portrait Gallery in Ottawa and the Venice Biennale in Italy. When Neel started doing contemporary work, a style undertaken by very few Northwest Coast artists, his masks were very controversial. Even today, 20 years later, few Northwest Native artists use their work to comment on social issues, as seen in Neel's art.