Jay Simeon was born in Fort McLeod, Alberta in 1976. His father is Eric Simeon (Haida), and his mother is Leonora Yellow Horn (Blackfoot). His heritage is a blend of two very different First Nations backgrounds: Plains on his mother’s side and Northwest Coast on his father’s. His father’s people were from Klusta, which is located along the northwestern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands, north of Old Masset, and is considered to be an ancient totem pole sanctuary.
Jay’s prominent family crests include the Eagle, Killerwhale, Cormorant, Frog, Beaver, Flicker and Raven. He has a strong connection to both sides of his heritage, but has begun to pursue more of his Haida heritage by way of his artwork.
At the age of fourteen, Jay was inspired by his first cousin, Haida artist Sharon Hitchcock, and was taught the principles of Haida design. He fell in love with Haida art ever since he was small and always knew that this is what he wanted to do.
In 1997, Jay began carving wood with Gary Leon in Williams Lake, BC. In 1999, he assisted in the carving of a 40-foot ocean-going canoe with the Squamish band. His interest in jewellery design led him to take a six-month training course in engraving under Dwayne Simeon. Later, he took a one-year jewellery course at the Vancouver Community College in order to learn casting and repoussé techniques.
After an introduction to Andrew Williams, at that time an emerging argillite carver, Jay was inspired to take up carving in this exacting medium. Given his ability, his interest, and sheer drive, his progression as an artist has been very rapid.
He has evolved an intricate, detailed style—with fastidious attention to every aspect. He creates outstanding works in several mediums, some of which are elaborately inlayed with abalone and mastadon ivory. Jay works in argillite, precious metals, and acrylics and is increasingly focusing on wood carving.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery, 2002
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