Henry Kelly (K’gyoolim Gibuu) was born in Prince Rupert, B.C. and raised in the village of Gitlakdamix (New Aiyansh) in the Nass Valley, where he learned the strong culture and traditional values of his people. His mother is Nisga’a and his father is Tsimshian, from the village of LaxKw’alaams (Port Simpson).
At the age of 15 Henry attended Booth Memorial Secondary School where he took Northwest Coast Art. He excelled in this class and was a straight ‘A’ student. In 1989 Henry was introduced to toolmaking and carving in alder by world-renowned carver Dempsey Bob. Henry was influenced greatly by Dempsey and always remembered him saying, “Once you start, you never stop learning.” This continues to be true for Henry to this day and he develops and learns from each piece he completes.
Henry has done numerous pieces, including masks, bowls, plaques, spoons, miniature poles, paddles, ceremonial rattles, headdresses, bentwood boxes and regalia design. He has also completed several original paintings. His commissioned pieces are included in private collections in Hong Kong, England and the United States. Henry also has pieces at the Museum of Northern B.C.
Henry is part of the First Nations Role Model Program within the Prince Rupert school district. He enjoys teaching children of all ages. Henry has done work for First Nations elders and has been employed by the Friendship House Society. He is currently enrolled in the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art under the tutelage of instructors and world-renowned carvers Stan Bevan and Ken McNeil.
“First Nations art is very spiritual — a piece of me goes into every piece I do. It makes me feel good inside when I carve, draw, or teach; it’s like a healing takes place.
“I attribute my success as an artist to my upbringing in accordance with strong traditional values and teachings of my elders. I continue to work in traditional manner with pride in myself and my people.”
Artist Statement, 2007
Spirit Wrestler Gallery
101-1669 West 3rd Ave.
Canada V6J 1K1
Toll Free: 1-888-669-8813
one block West of the Granville Island gates
Between Pine St. and Fir St.
Tuesday to Saturday, open 10-5
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