Humanities Information

Native American Indian Art Wood Carvings of the Pacific Northwest


Native American Indian art in the American southwest is dominated by the magnificent pottery and jewelry in the region. When it comes to the Pacific Northwest region which covers the states of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia (Canada) and the southern part of Alaska, the Native American art here is mostly wood carvings. This is not surprising since unlike the southwest desert, the Pacific Northwest is abundant with forests which have provided the wood as raw material for the region's Native American Indian art.

The wood carvings of the Pacific Northwest Native American art come in many different forms. The huge totem poles which are carved on entire tree trunks are probably the most famous. Certainly the most common form of contemporary Pacific Northwest Native American art is the plaque wood carving. The entire range of Pacific Northwest Native American Indian art subjects including eagles, ravens, thunderbirds, bears, killer whales and salmons are carved as plaques to be hung on the wall. A more complex project and usually higher priced would be the masks which are also carved out of wood. The Pacific Northwest Native American artists make some of the most striking aboriginal masks in the world.

Creative artists and carvers from this region have also used wood to carve out bowls, paddles, rattles and boxes which are all expertly decorated with Pacific Northwest Native American Indian designs. Some carvers have even carved more day to day objects such as letter openers out of wood again decorated with the region's Native motifs. Although not restricting themselves to just wood, the Pacific Northwest Native American artists also do art prints, paintings and precious metal jewelry but overall wood is still the most common material used in their artwork.

The Pacific Northwest style of Native American Indian art is still unknown to many parts of North America and the rest of the world but this will definitely change as the 2010 winter Olympics in British Columbia approaches. The world will see British Columbia and as visitors to this Canadian province have already noticed, there are fine examples of Pacific Northwest Native American Indian art everywhere one goes in the west coast of Canada.

Clint Leung is owner of Free Spirit Gallery http://www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca, an online gallery specializing in Inuit Eskimo and Northwest Native American art including carvings, sculpture and prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource articles with photos of authentic Inuit and Native Indian art as well as free eCards.


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