Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Floyd “Tyee” Joseph

Coast Salish

(1953- )

“The creator has given us many good things: the universe, the sky, the mountains, the valleys, rivers, inlets and oceans. These are the origins of our totems. For as long as I can remember the elders would take me aside and speak to me of my people and where we come from. In my work I attempt to illustrate a visual understanding of these stories and to interpret our peoples’ legends in my own style.

“My work incorporates the four kingdoms: animal, spiritual, water and sky. Work in these areas gives me a greater respect and understanding of the wealth that is all around us.

“The Great Spirit bestowed upon Kalana, the first man, three things a man cannot do without: a wife, a chisel and a salmon trap.”

Floyd Joseph was born on October 29th, 1953, on the Capilano Reserve in North Vancouver, British Columbia, as a member of the Squamish band of the Coast Salish Nation. Since childhood, Floyd was talented in drawing and painting. At the age of nine, his creative qualities led him to discover his ability to carve with the guidance of Ed Billy, Larry Joseph, Bobby Cole and Buffalo Mathias.

During his final years at Carson Graham high school in North Vancouver, Floyd was inspired to new artistic levels by Frank Perry who was European trained and a friend of the Haida artist and master carver Bill Reid. Perry had a huge influence over Floyd, teaching him to be self-confident, self-reliant and the importance of personal independence. Even during his teens, Floyd’s charming and original masks, bowls, plaques and totem poles were sought by art lovers.

Floyd majored in art at Capilano College (sculpture, potter, drawing and design). He visited Paris, Amsterdam and London to explore the museums, the art and the culture.

Floyd’s woodcarvings are both lifelike and beautiful. His Eagles, Loons, Ravens, Bears, Whales and other creatures important in Coast Salish legends are very delicately carved. The painted designs that adorn his pieces are nicely balanced and are reminiscent of the northern style of the Tsimshian.

Floyd’s desire to live in harmony with nature is reinforced in his work. He brings to life the stories and legends of his people through his art, passing down the tradition of storytelling to us.

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