Rufus Moody was born in Skidegate village, Haida Gwaii, on the Queen Charlotte Islands. He began his carving career well after the smallpox epidemic of the late 19th century (which decimated the Haida population from over 8000 to about 800), and well before the cultural and artistic resurgence of the early 1960s. While much of the culture was being pushed towards extinction through assimilation, argillite carving was still being promoted and encouraged by a very small existing market.
Rufus Moody is the son of Arthur Moody and grandson of Thomas, both who were renowned argillite carvers. The three generations of artists created a hereditary style, which was distinctive from other argillite artists. Rufus made his living solely as an artist and became one of the most prolific artists in the medium.
In the late 1950s, Rufus Moody in Skidegate and Claude Davidson in Masset began a teaching program to encourage and teach young Haida artists to carve. At the time, argillite was more readily available in larger pieces and Rufus began to carve very large works. He is accredited with carving the largest argillite pole, although there is some dispute over which of his major works is truly the largest. One of these poles is in the Museum of Anthropology, while another is in the Queen Charlotte Museum in Skidegate. A third is in a private collection and the fourth is in a corporate collection in downtown Vancouver.
Rufus continued to carve argillite. He is included in many museum, corporate, and private collections, and his extensive exhibition record has never been accurately documented.
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