Born in 1971, Chris Cook was given the name “Xusamdas” during his father’s first potlatch in 1975 when he was initiated into the Hamatsa Secret Society. He grew up in Alert Bay until he was 18 years old surrounded by a strong and powerful traditional family.
Chris was an avid sketch artist in his youth and was studying to work as an industrial metalworker and machinist during his high school years but his family wanted him to pursue a path in the world of academia. In 1998 he completed an undergraduate degree in History at the University of Victoria. During his post-secondary education, he took a beginners silversmith course at Camosun College and began to apply the skills he learned during his training as an industrial metalworker into designing and producing jewellery.
After years of encouragement from artist Francis Dick, Chris finally began applying his knowledge of metalworking to traditional Kwaguilth design and jewelry in early 1999. He was further influenced by Tahltan artist Terrence Campbell and Kwaguilth artist Harold Alfred. The result is blend of traditional Kwaguilth design with refined metalworking skills in a unique style of jewellery.
Chris has travelled internationally with Kwaguilth dance groups, lectured at the university level about his culture and heritage, and shared his knowledge of his people’s spirituality with many peoples both native and non-native. Chris has plans to continue his academic education at the graduate and doctorate levels but is currently affirming his native heritage by creating art and jewellery with Kwaguilth themes.
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