Born in Alaska in 1946, and raised in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Robert Davidson is one of Canada's most important contemporary artists. A Northwest Coast native artist of Haida ancestry, he is a master carver of totem poles and masks, and works in a variety of other media as a printmaker, painter and jeweler. He is also a leading figure in the renaissance of Haida art and culture.
Robert Davidson has produced an internationally acclaimed body of artwork, in particular a number of large totem poles, masks, and bronze sculptures, as well as many highly acclaimed graphic silk screen prints. These works are in collections including the Pepsi Co International Sculpture Park in Purchase, New York, the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
In addition to being the subject of numerous books, films, and articles, Robert Davidson is the author of an award winning book entitled EAGLE OF THE DAWN - THE ART OF ROBERT DAVIDSON. (Published by Douglas & MacIntyre)
Robert Davidson received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Art and Culture in March 1995. He holds honorary degrees from the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. He has also been appointed to the Order of British Columbia. The Order recognizes those persons who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in a field of endeavor benefiting the people of British Columbia. In 1996 Robert also received the prestigious Order of Canada, and recently a $200 gold coin was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint, incorporating Robert's design "Raven Bringing Light to the World".
Robert currently lives in the Vancouver area and returns often to Haida Gwaii to spend time with his family and to refresh his spirits.
The purpose of my art is to express the contemporary life and meaning of my ancestral culture, that of the Haida people of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). From the time I raised the first totem in this century in my home village of Masset, I have been committed to the use of cultural knowledge in order to celebrate the present as well as the past. As a bicultural Haida - Canadian artist, I draw upon my own experience of life to give personal and collective meaning to my work. "The challenge is to create images that we can all relate to," I mentioned when discussing my first major commission for a public location, "The Three Watchmen", a three-totem pole sculpture at the Maclean Hunter building in Toronto. The same intention is evident in my four-foot bronze, "Raven Brings Light to the World", commissioned by the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, as well as a second three-pole sculpture and a three-foot bronze frog commissioned by Pepsi Co. for its Sculpture Garden in New York.
I return frequently to Haida Gwaii to renew my spirits. "Fishing is an annual event in our lives and it really slows me down to the natural cycles of life, such as the tides and the return of the salmon, and makes me realize how fragile our whole existence is. Also, in the cultural realm, everytime we have a potlatch it is a way of expressing Haida knowledge and there is always new people speaking and taking the responsibility for carrying it forward into the future.