carved red cedar
150 x 40 in 381 x 101.6 cm
Commissioned directly from the Artist by the present Private Collection, Toronto
Stan Hunt is one of Canada’s most renowned Northwest Coast artists, and produces totem poles, masks and graphic paintings in the artistic tradition of his Kwakiutl (Kwakwa_ka_'wakw) ancestry. Hunt’s studio is in Fort Rupert on the northern coast of Vancouver Island.
Born in 1954 in Victoria into a family with a proud artistic legacy, Stan is the youngest son of carver Henry Hunt and grandson of Chief Mungo Martin. His father and grandfather both held the role of master carver at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, and his brothers Tony and Richard Hunt are both recognized as leading Kwakiutl artists.
Stan was introduced to the art of carving by his father Henry Hunt, who advised him that, “The first thing you have to do is make your own tools.” Hunt’s works are crafted from local materials and carved solely with traditional tools – the adze, curved knife and straight knife. Stan’s craft manifests the spirit of Chief Martin, who was a central figure in the preservation of Kwakiutl spiritual and cultural traditions in the first half of the twentieth century. Stan creates his works in accordance with traditional customs and symbolism, ensuring that the Kwakiutl community retains ownership of family crests and heritage. Family crests, for instance, are only allowed to be carved by members of that designated lineage.
Hunt takes great pride in preserving tradition, and his authentic craftsmanship continues and contributes to the oral and visual ethos of the Kwakiutl. His work manifests a West Coast psyche, one that is grounded in the spirit of community. This impressive pole is dominated by the power of the central bear motif, a symbol of strength, courage and leadership in Kwakiutl culture.
The grey weathering of this pole is the most current condition. First growth cedar has a more red hue than second growth, which is yellow and ages quickly to show the grey colouration. Second growth cedar typically ages to a darker brown colour, similar to other regular soft woods. First growth cedar is more sought after for collectors, but is now extremely hard for artists to acquire, due to its scarcity. Back in the 1970s and 1980s MacMillan Bloedel gave large logs to all the local Indigenous artists to maintain good relationships while working on their treaty lands. That is no longer the case, and all logs are limited and must be purchased by the artists. Therefore, for Stan to be given this log, which was a deadfall and protected for a very long time, shows the respect with which he and his family are regarded in the Port Hardy / Fort Rupert region.
 Interview with Stan Hunt, 2022.
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