Massie’s work is a reflection of his mixed Inuit, Métis and Scottish heritage. In it, he investigates both traditional and contemporary themes. He has achieved renown for his innovative teapots that combine themes and symbols from his native Inuit culture with European traditions. Massie has been twice short-listed for the coveted Prix Saidye Bronfman and has an extensive international reputation. His work has been shown in North America and Europe, including the National Gallery of Canada. He was elected a member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011.
Over the past 25 years, Michael has been recognized for his excellence as a silversmith and is especially renowned for his varied interpretations of the teapot. During the mid-1990s we had heard about Michael, seen photos of his teapots, and had admired his art. In 1998, we were finally introduced to Michael by Mattiusi Iyaituk at the Spirits in the Sun Art Show in Scottsdale, Arizona. As they say “the rest is history” as we just connected and ever since then our gallery has had the pleasure and privilege representing Michael and his artwork exclusively.
In 1999, we displayed his first teapot acquired by our gallery in the Fusion: Tradition and Discovery exhibition, where we introduced many artists exploring new directions in the art. From that moment we encouraged Michael to diversify from silver and to develop his expertise in stone sculpture, as he would then be able to reach an even larger Inuit collector audience. This proved to be valuable advice, as ever since then his distinctive stone sculptures have been acquired by many collectors and museums. This in-turn also helped to introduce his silver art to a wider audience, piggybacking on their initial interest in his stone sculptures. Today his artworks are in many important institutions, including the Smithsonian-National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the National Gallery in Ottawa, and the YVR Vancouver Airport Collection.
In 2005, we hosted his first successful solo exhibition Tea and a Story with Michael Massie which featured 29 works of art, including teapots and sculpture. There was one particular piece called “come sit and have some tea” that featured his self-portrait, carved in stone while holding a silver teapot. This was Michael’s first artwork combining silver and stone in the same composition and that idea became the catalyst for this exhibition.
In 2012, for his 50@50 Celebration in Metal and Stone solo exhibition, Michael carved sculptures in serpentine, marble, anhydrite, limestone, whalebone and antler. With many he incorporated a variety of metals into the design which include copper, brass, chrome, aluminum, sterling silver and gold leaf. Metal became the unifying vital ingredient of this collection. It is his expertise of combining metal and stone that has set Michael uniquely apart from his contemporaries. Of course no exhibition by Michael would be complete without a few silver teapots!
It has been an exciting journey for us working with Michael so closely for all these years, as he represents all that is great about working with an outstanding artist. He is a consummate professional, taking a keen interest in understanding the market and supporting our exhibitions. He is an artist who is continually challenging himself to produce new and different artworks. Each piece gives the viewer an insight into his life, family, interests and thoughts. To really understand how he thinks, where the idea originates, the difficulties and techniques used in the process of creating the artwork, then one needs to read his accompanying stories.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery, 2012