Reg Davidson, Haida Artist

Reg Davidson is an internationally acclaimed Haida artist who creates large and small cedar sculptures, silk-screen prints, gold and silver jewelry, weaving, carved masks and painted drums.  He was born in 1954 in Masset, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia. Reg began his artistic training under the guidance of his father, Claude Davidson, chief of the village of Dadens, Haida Gwaii. Many members of the Davidson family are artists, including Reg’s well-known brother, Robert Davidson.  Reg is an accomplished dancer and singer with the Rainbow Creek Dancers, a Haida Dance group that Reg and Robert formed in 1980. Reg designed and created much of the dance regalia for the group including masks, drums, and kid leather dance capes.  Reg recognizes the importance of song and dance to Haida culture.  In 1977, he worked with Robert on the Charles Edenshaw Memorial Longhouse.  In August 1980, Malaspina College on Vancouver Island commissioned Reg to create a 31-foot, 3 figure Eagle crest totem pole for presentation to the Tamagawa University of Japan.  This led to a second commission for a pole raised in Old Massett. With regard to innovation, Reg thinks the masters have already pushed it to the max. Reg’s style shows reverence for the masters and has changed only slightly over the years. "Simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve," he says. 

Hawk Mask

"Understand that what I'm doing now is still growing and still alive; stuff now is traditional and will still be in 100 years."

 Reg's home, studio, and 30' cedar canoe (carved in San Francisco in 1990).

 
Gagheet Mask

Bent-Wood Eagle Bowl, yellow cedar, 1989

Killer Whale and Eagle Pole

Blue Portrait, 1991

Here are some of Reg's wood carving techniques:

A piece of red cedar is screwed onto a rotating vise. Careful measurements are necessary in order to give the moon mask a symmetrical face. The inside of the mask is hollowed out after the face has been finished. The carved mask is then painted and dressed with cedar bark.

 

I Want to be Your Teddy Bear

Frog Sculpture

Crab of the Woods

 

Raven Helmet

Frog Helmet

 
White Raven Raven Stealing Beaver Lodge Pole, 1998 Ran Out of Black Paint, 1999

 

Raven in Red Form

Raven Eagle Pole, 2000

Bear Mother in Human Form, 2002

 

Raven Canoe Bowl, 2002

Connecting the Spirits was carved in three sections and painted in 2002 by thousands of people as it traveled to 14 cities in Canada.

 
Before She Became the Moon, 2003 Eagle Claw With Dinner, 2003 Spirit of Woman, 2003

 
2003 Winter Moon, 2004 Frog Rattle

 

Eagle Spirit Woman, 2004.

Grizzly Bear and Cubs, 2004 (see the step-by-step process below).

 

Craig and Cecil used an Alaska mill to shape a red cedar log for the Grizzly Bear and Cubs Sculpture, then Oliver and Cecil made sure that everything was square before moving the log into Reg's studio. The sculpture took 2 months to complete.

The piece was set up-side-down (on the left) to continue the roughing out process in Reg's studio.

The carving was finished in Reg's studio.

 

Maturing Watchman, 2005

Eagle Woman

Gone to the Other Side, 2005

 New Beginning, 2006

 

Reg just finished this 40' totem pole for a collector. Here are a few pictures of the creation of the pole.

From left to right is a frog in a bear's mouth, a human, then a frog.

From left to right is a sea wolf, then two killer whales.

The middle section features a tadpole, a man, and a frog in a bear's mouth.

A raven transforming into a human tops the pole, followed by Susan the Strongman are on the top. Painting has begun.

 

The finished 40' pole, 2006

Woman Riding 4' tall Killer Whale Fin, 2006

 

Below is one of two longhouse front corner posts that Reg carved to accompany the 40' pole (above).

 

Eagle Drum, 2007

Raven Drum, 22", 2007

Raven Finned Killer Whale Drum, 22",  2007

 

Bent Cedar Box, 19 x 19 x 24", 2007

Bent Cedar Chest, 28 x 15 x 22", 2007

 
Seven Generations,  red cedar, horsehair, & cedar bark,  40 x 24 x 16", 2007

Eagle Woman, red cedar wood and bark, operculum teeth, 2007

One Lone Wolf, red cedar wood, bark, 2008

Moon, red cedar wood and bark, operculum teeth, 2008

 

Raven Transformation Pole,  red cedar, 9' high, 2008

 

2009

2009

Shark Mask, 2009

 
 

Frog Traveling, 54" high, 2012
He has tattoos on his arm and back. The design on the cedar bent wood box is an eagle.

 

Reg and his work are featured in "Traditions of the Haida Gwaii," Woodcarving Magazine, May/June 2004: 56-59. For more information about Reg or his work, please look at his resume, or contact him at:

Box 174
Masset, Haida Gwaii
British Columbia
Canada, VOT 1M0
Telephone: (250) 626-3764 
Email
Reg

Links:
Haida Argillite Carver, Myles Edgars
Haida Silversmith, Dave Hunter
Haida Painter, James Sawyer
Haida Cedar Bark Hat Maker, Gladys Vandal  
Masks From Around the World book

Polish Wood Carver, Czeslaw Olma    
Polish Wood Carver, Jan Piotr Ledwon
Silva Foundation Workshops in Lisbon, Portugal   
Intarsia of Granada, Spain    
Religious Sculpture in Seville, Spain
Mexican Wood Carver, Fernando Giron Pantoja 
Mexican Marquetry Box Maker, José Antonio Rodríguez
Wood Carving in Foumban, Cameroon, Africa
Abdou Mfopa 
Ga Coffins in Teshie, Ghana 
Wood Carving in Bali, Indonesia 
Horn Carving in Bali, Indonesia
Carol Ventura's Home Page 

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Photographs by Reg Davidson and Carol Ventura; web page by Carol Ventura.