UVic Ellen Neel Exhibition January 23 2017, 0 Comments

The University of Victoria will be exhibiting a show titled Ellen Neel: The First Woman Totem Pole Carver from January 14, 2017 - April 1, 2017. This exhibition celebrates the career of Kwakwaka'wakw carver Ellen Neel (1916-1966), the first professional female Northwest Coast carver of full-size totem poles and model poles. Further, it acknowledges Neel’s contribution towards the recognition of Northwest Coast Native art as a contemporary art form. “Our art continues to live, for not only is it part and parcel of us, but can be a powerful factor in combining the best part of Indian culture with the fabric of a truly Canadian art form.” – Ellen Neel

This show at the University of Victoria is similar to an exhibition that Lattimer Gallery had in 2014 titled Ellen Neel - Select Works. Ellen Neel, born in 1916, is well known in the Northwest Coast Native art market for a number of reasons. She was the granddaughter of Charlie James and the niece of Mungo Martin, both acclaimed artists and pole carvers. She was also the first woman to professionally carve totem poles in British Columbia, based out of her own workshop called Totem Arts Studio in Stanley Park. In addition to creating poles and masks for the tourist market, Ellen also completed many commercial commissions that both promoted Northwest Coast culture and elevated her status within the fine art market. One of these large projects took place in 1955 and involved Ellen creating five large poles for a Woodward’s Department Store in Edmonton.