“Oyster Catcher Rattle” by Wayne Alfred and his son Marcus Alfred
Like his father, Marcus was taught the ceremonial traditions of Kwakwaka’wakw people and from an early age he has participated in the ceremonies held at the Alert Bay Big House — the cultural center for the village. His father is among the premier ceremonial dancers and more recently has begun to share this responsibility with his son. Marcus has now danced many masks for various families who were performing their family crest masks at a Potlatch.
“Our living room was always one couch and a dance floor. I would practice dancing and Marcus would watch and follow the steps.” — Wayne Alfred
Marcus has proved to be a gifted painter and has assisted many of the more established artists such as Beau Dick and his father with the painting of particular pieces. He is particularly in demand during the preparations for ceremonial events when many pieces are being created. His understanding of the dance and how masks are performed has greatly enhanced his ability to carve masks that are both functional and powerful. He continues to dance and has been called on to represent Northwest Coast art as an ambassador on the world stage.
Wayne Alfred was born in 1958 in Alert Bay on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Alert Bay remains one of the most important artistic and culture centres on the Northwest Coast. Its isolated location protected the community from much of the effects of assimilation and remained not only a heritage village but also one of the most continually developing cultural areas on the coast. It is the home of the largest free standing totem pole in the world and the U’mista Cultural Centre which houses a major historic collection which had been returned from major museums as part of the changes to the Cultural appropriation legislation of the Federal Government.
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