Alan Hunt, Cole Speck, and Aubrey Johnston Jr.: Early Works II

Tanúyap Project Space, Fazakas Gallery, 688 E Hastings St., Vancouver, BC
May 17 – June 14, 2019

“Not only are you trying to create these higher-quality pieces, but you have to remember where they come from and understand the stories that go along with all of it, and so it is a pretty big responsibility, I would think, in helping maintain this constant passing-on of knowledge.”

– Cole Speck, Kwakwaka’wakw artist


This exhibition featuring Alan Hunt and Cole Speck, with help from Aubrey Johnson Jr., thematically builds off our previous show, Beau Dick: Early Works. For the world of Kwakwaka’wakw carving, the apprentice system remains the primary way that young artists are trained. Older and more experienced carvers take on young apprentices to help them with on totem poles and large projects. The relationship flows both ways: as the young carvers help masters they learn the skills and knowledge they will need to become masters themselves.

Beau Dick took on many young apprentices during his career teaching, taught them his techniques and values, and helped in developing their own styles. With Early Works featuring current pieces by his former apprentices, the exhibition offers an exciting look at three new carvers with styles and ideas of their own.

Alan Hunt (b. 1988) is of Kwakwaka’wakw and Tlingit ancestry and currently resides in Alert Bay, BC. He dedicates himself to the cultural practices of his people as a singer in ceremonies and as an active participant in the potlatch. He comes from a long line of great chiefs who were active in ceremony and the preservation their people’s customs and traditions. Hunt received his chieftainship from his grandfather, Chief Alfred (Hutch) Hunt, in 2015. He connects strongly to his ancestors with an understanding that this connection is essential to his spirit.

Hunt carves in both Kwakwaka’wakw and Tlingit styles. He honours both ancestral bloodlines through work that embodies the richness of each culture’s artistic styles. Hunt began art-making and carving regularly in 2011. In 2013, he began a long-term apprenticeship under master carver Beau Dick, which lasted until his death in 2017. Hunt has also enjoyed the honour of being mentored by renowned carvers Wayne Alfred, Marcus Alfred, and Bruce Alfred. Most recently, Hunt worked closely with Beau Dick during Dick’s Artist-in-Residency at the UBC Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in his studio in the Audain Art Centre. It was there that Hunt assisted Dick in the creation of his exhibition for Documenta 14 (2017), which took place in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany.

See more works by Alan Hunt here.

Cole Speck (b. 1991) was raised on the Namgis reserve on the island of Alert Bay on the northern shore of Vancouver Island, BC. Cole comes from a very strong cultural and artistic heritage. His great grandfather was the late Chief John Speck of the Tlowitsis, father of the late Henry Speck Sr. Cole is also the great grandson of the late Harry Hanuse of Mamalalaka (Village Island). Cole apprenticed under master carvers Beau Dick and Wayne Alfred. Cole has a tremendous love and respect for his culture and he aspires to keep old traditions alive while allowing his contemporary style to emerge.

In 2010/11, Speck was honoured to assist in the making of the Pat Alfred Memorial pole with Beau Dick. In 2012 he was selected by Rande Cook to apprentice on a totem pole that was later installed in Holland as part of a Northwest Coast exhibit. He participated in “RezErect” at the Bill Reid Gallery in 2013 and in 2014 he took part in “Claiming Space” at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology. Most recently, Cole Speck performed and contextualized works on behalf of Beau Dick at Documenta 14 (2017) in Athens and Kassel.

See more works by Cole Speck here.