“As I work within the traditional Northwest Coast Kwagu’l style, I am reminded of the diversity, spirituality, transformation and meaning of our Kwakwaka’wakw culture. The subject, design elements and colors are elements that contribute to my inspiration. I most enjoy working with western red cedar, and am particularly interested in carving totem poles, masks and dance outfits. There are certain elements that represent the unifying symbolism of various animals and legends which I follow through the knowledge and teachings of my Chiefs, Elders and artists.” -Calvin Hunt
Calvin Hunt is the youngest son in a family of eight children. He was born into a wealth of traditions through both his father and mother. His father was a hereditary Chief of the Kwagu’l People of Fort Rupert. His mother, the daughter of a great Nootka Chief and Shaman, Dr. Billy. Since earliest childhood he’s molded a love for his culture; he learned his traditional dances practicing for his parents and grandparents (Chief Mungo Martin and Abaya). His artistic abilities showed promise at an early age through his sketches. He began carving at the age of 12. In 1972 he began carving full time as an apprentice with Tony Hunt (Arts of the Raven Gallery, Victoria, BC.). He remained with the gallery until 1982 at which time he moved to his ancestral home of Fort Rupert. In 1983 he opened his workshop “The Copper Maker”.
In May,1988, he carved and raised the Hunt Pole, with the assistance of his brothers, nephews and cousins, which is hereditarily owned by his oldest brother, George Hunt Sr., The pole stands outside of his father and mother’s home. He also carved a memorial grave figure for his father at the Fort Rupert cemetery. These poles were the first such poles raised in the village in approximately 70 years.
With the resurgence of canoe building in 1993, Calvin and his nephew, Mervyn Child, carved a 32’ Northern Style canoe which represented the Kwagu’l Nation at ‘Quatuwas in Bella Bella. This canoe is named after his mother, “Maxwalaogwa”, and belongs to the Maxwalaogwa Canoe Society, formed by Calvin and his wife, Marie. Calvin has also carved the 32’ Northern Style canoe, “I-Hos”, and 40’ Northern Style canoe “U’gwamalis Gixdan”. He has helped with the carving of a Manka canoe, and a 37’ West Coast Style canoe from Quatsino. In 1995, during a potlatch given by Calvin and his brother, Ross Hunt Sr., he received his Chief’s name, from his wife’s side of the family, “Tlasutiwalis”. In July of 1998, he was seated as the fourth primary Chief of the Mowachaht; the Hereditary Chieftainship, which belonged to his grandfather, Dr. Billy, of Tsuwana (Friendly Cove), his Chief’s name being “Nas soom yees”.
“Fine art constantly evolves; it allows a lens through which the fluidity and creativity of the art of the Northwest Coast is expressed. I mostly work within the elements of traditional southern Kwakiutl art, and it has taken me years to broaden my artistic creativity. Incorporating more contemporary elements and colours is a challenge I enjoy. My art work crosses the continuum of history and the present. I enjoy sharing our culture with the world, and I feel very fortunate to have the capacity to pass on our Elders’ teachings. Most importantly, it is a way for us to teach our children, our “Gwa’layu”, (our reason for living) by providing a creative, inspiring environment that generates knowledge of their crests, legends, songs and dances, giving them a sound foundation of their identity.”