Coast Salish Carver Felix Solomon presents his artwork and wisdom

The Center for Spirituality & Sustainability presented master carver Felix Solomon on Nov. 4 to discuss the cultural and aesthetic interpretation of his artwork rooted in Native American ancestral traditions.

Felix Solomon is an active member of the Lummi Nation and one of the only master carvers worldwide who carries forward the ancestral carving tradition of the American Coast Salish. Photo courtesy of Melonie Ancheta

His work includes totem poles, canoes, ceremonial masks and other spiritually empowered wood carving from the Northwest Coast Lummi tribe. Solomon talked about his life’s work as a cultural conservator, as a teacher, and mentor of younger carvers.

His goal for his work as a Coast Salish artist is to bring back the old style of Coast Salish Lummi carving.

“Now I’m in a position where I can teach, and I can pass on this art form of how to bring a canoe or a mask to life” Solomon said.  “If we don’t restore our public art we are going to lose all the examples of our art form as the public knows it.”

Solomon collaborated and wrote the chapter ‘Coast Salish Carving : Our Work Is Our Identity,’ in the book “A Totem Pole History: the Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire,” edited by philosophy professor Gregory Fields. According to Solomon, his essay in the book offer a range of perspectives on Coast Salish totem poles and oral tradition and on Joe Hillaire’s contributions to this art form and cultural practice.

Solomon was one of the artist chosen to restore Joe Hillaire’s work and also received grants to research and document Coast Salish carving. In addition, he was featured in the short film ‘Carver of the past: Felix Solomon.’ Solomon lives and works on the Lummi Reservation, where he maintains his carving studio.

The event was sponsored by the anthropology, historical studies, political science and philosophy departments, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences, the Alumni Association, the Vice Chancellor for Administration, the Vice Chancellor for Students Affairs and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.


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