Native American bear mask, Kwakiutl, Northwest Coast Canada.

Artist: Joe Wilson. First Nations Artist. Tribe: Coast Salish.

Joseph Wilson, born in 1966, is a descendant of the 'Namgis First Nation, and a grandson of Chief Alvin Edgar Alfred and a member of the Cowichan Band in Duncan, BC. At the age of 16, Joe discovered an interest in Native art through inspiration from his family. Joe began carving at the age of 21 after being exposed to the works of master carver Willie Seaweed. He began studying, carving, and painting under the guidance of master carver Simon Charlie. Pursuing his newfound career, Joe sought more experience by working with other artists such as Jim Gilbert, Tim Paul and Charles Elliot. Since 1984 his work has reflected his search for his own cultural identity in Coast Salish art.

Great Kwakiutl Bear mask carved out of red cedar. The bear is a link between human and nonhuman animal realms, as well as between the secular natural realm and the divine or supernatural. Because of their strength and fierceness, bears are frequently the guardians, protectors and helping spirits of warriors. Signed on the inside Joe W. 1999. Red Cedar, black and red acrylic paint. H: 24 cm - 24.8 inch : W: 19 cm - 20.8 inch.