Grantee: David A. Boxley
Native Citizenship: Metlakatla Indian Community, Tsimshian
Location: Kingston, Wash.
Award: 2015 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline: Traditional Arts
Web Site: DavidBoxley.com
David A. Boxley left his career as a high school teacher in 1986 to dedicate his life to the revival and rebirth of Tsimshian art, culture and tradition. At that time, with too few carvers to learn the traditional art from, Boxley had to learn from studying museum artifacts. Through this path of learning, Boxley has enabled those ancient master carvers to speak through their ancient designs to today’s generation of carvers, and he believes this cycle of learning will continue as this generation’s voices of carvers speak to the next.
Boxley’s own carving style reflects ancient Tsimshian art. His work is displayed and commissioned throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He has carved 73 Totem Poles of which the 70th totem is at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. David also has carved hundreds of panels, bentwood boxes, masks, rattles and drums.
Taking time away from commissions to carve and produce the new masks that he has envisioned for years has been nearly impossible for David to afford. The 2015 National Artist Fellowship’s award money will provide David with the opportunity to break from commission work in order to carve and produce new masks for his dance group. The group was selected as host group of Celebration 2016—the largest gathering of Alaskan Native dancers held every other year. As host to the gathering, David plans to carve new masks for use in the celebration.
Boxley formed his group, The Git-Hoan Dancers, to educate, learn, sing, dance, perform Tsimshian beautiful art; and to let the people know that the culture that was once threatened is still alive and well.
I have much more to learn and create and will listen to the old voices tell us “create us again”, use us again, celebrate us again
~ David A. Boxley