Barry Herem

Barry Herem

Both the figurative and abstract work of Barry Herem owe much to the essential forms of Northwest Coast native art. He has renewed and extended these forms into true contemporary art through a knowing reinvention of them, often with a modernistic flair in what he calls “equal parts invention and assimilation.” Herem works in a wide variety of media: bronze, cast paper, glass, steel, aluminum plate, silver, fabric, wood and as a serigraph print-maker. He is particularly recognized for his daring use of new materials in Northwest Coastal art: he was the first artist to utilize cast paper (1984), one of the first to incorporate bronze (1973), and he pioneered the use of enameled aluminum plate and steel from 1982 onward.

Herem has produced many large works of public and private sculpture throughout the Northwest, including commissions for Alaska Airlines, Sea-Tac Airport, Seattle’s Gateway Tower, the Washington State Arts Commission, Cedar River Fish Hatchery, and the State Patrol building in Vancouver, WA.

Herem has produced more than fifty silk-screen or serigraph prints and numerous hand-painted cast paper masks and panels demonstrating a wide-ranging commitment to new approaches sensitive to past and present. In one of his best examples of modernistic work, Herem has performed a series of eight masked dances in a video work of performance art entitled, “Rock and Other Notions; New Mask Dancing From the Northwest Coast.”

Trained as a writer/journalist, Herem has also published many articles, poems (some award winning) letters and photographs in publications including Time/Life, Harpers, Architectural Digest, Connoisseur, Seattle Times and P.I., and American Indian Art. His work has been noted in the New York Times and other publications.

Herem has done extensive archaeological/anthropological style field work, having directed a survey of native Alaskan historic sites for Sealaska Corporation of Juneau, Alaska in 1973-74 which resulted in a 900-page descriptive directory. Herem is also noted as a lively lecturer (through Humanities Washington and many private venues) and is well known for his many summer canoe adventures in the coastal wilds of British Columbia and Alaska.

Born in Michigan in 1941, raised in Portland, Oregon, Herem has lived in Seattle, Washington since 1964.  He has attended Portland State University, Brigham Young University, the University of Washington, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland; he received his B.A. in 1963.