Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

“a couple of couples”


I was looking the stone over for a few days and there wasn’t really much that I could see, but I liked the shape of the raw stone. I ended up looking through my old Art History books and there were a couple of images that caught my attention from the start — and these became the start of this design. One was the Jacques Lipchitz “Figure from 1926-30” (cast in 1937), another was by Pablo Picasso, the “Seated Woman” from 1927, and the third was a piece of my own, which was called “from behind a tree” (maybe it is OK to be self-referential!).

It took me some time to figure out how I was going to do the brass, initially I was going to have the brass completely cover the entire face, but after some thought I didn’t like this idea so much and scrapped it in favour of having the brass conform to the shape of the stone and to act as another face, which I found much stronger. The brass tubing was added for balance and to visually bring the two pieces together. The eyes were treated like that as it gave a better effect and makes the design that much more abstract.

My oldest daughter, Keshia, had given me a set of caribou antlers that her boyfriend, Justin, had wanted me to have and possibly use in one of my pieces some day. I thought they would work quite well with this piece. The antler was made to represent the male and female — the horizontal lines are the female and the vertical lines represent the male — this is what I was told when I was up teaching in Gjoa Haven, NU. The fur was added because I wanted to separate the two halves, and for the woman to have the hair. When it came time to make the base, I wasn’t really sure about what I wanted to do, so I decided to work with the concave shape of the face — and found that it also acts as the shoulders.

Sitting looking at it finished, I realized that I really like this piece — in part for its difference to the rest of my other work, and in part for its abstractness.

—Michael Massie

Michael Massie

Michael Massie


Inuit, Métis

Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

(1962- )

Massie’s work is a reflection of his mixed Inuit, Métis and Scottish heritage. In it, he investigates both traditional and contemporary themes. He has achieved renown for his innovative teapots that combine themes and symbols from his native Inuit culture with European traditions. Massie has been twice short-listed for the coveted Prix Saidye Bronfman and has an extensive international reputation. His work has been shown in North America and Europe, including the National Gallery of Canada. He was elected a member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011.