A carver who took much of his inspiration and technique from traditional Kwakwaka’wakw art, Beau’s work has been particularly noted for its embrace of contemporary influences, often incorporating European and Asian styles into his creations. His masks in particular have been lauded for their rough yet realistic presentation, representing a piece that is both austere yet incredibly life-like. As the artist himself has put it:
“My style is sometimes referred to as ‘Potlatch Style’ as it comes from a tradition of ceremony which requires many masks to be made in a short period of time. It takes many years of practice and an understanding of balance in order to create a work that appears finished in a natural and instinctive manner, without seeming overthought.”
Due to the particularity of his work, Beau’s art has gained steady recognition and acclaim in both Canada and the international art scene over the years, with a carving commissioned for Vancouver’s Expo ’86 proving to be a large stepping-stone in his career. In 1998, Beau was one of only seven Canadian artists to attend the reopening of Canada House in London, England. The following decade saw many of his pieces featured in a variety of exhibitions that took his work to galleries and museums across Canada, the US and Europe. 2010 saw four of Beau’s major works brought to Sydney, Australia to be displayed in one of the largest and most prestigious exhibitions in the world, the Sydney Biennale. Dick’s work has been exhibited most recently at Documenta 14, Athens (2017).
The story of Beau’s life and art has been developed into a feature-length documentary film entitled Maker of Monsters, which made its world premiere at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival. From 2013 to his passing in 2017, Dick was Artist-in-Residence at the UBC Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, with his studio in the Audain Art Centre.
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.
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. Like Beau Dick, Alan Hunt dedicates his practice to the promotion of Kwakwaka’wakw culture. Hunt has also enjoyed the honour of being mentored by renowned carvers Wayne Alfred, Marcus Alfred, and Bruce Alfred.
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. He connects strongly to his ancestors with an understanding that this connection is essential to his spirit. It is because of these connections that Hunt’s approach to carving is so heavily rooted in upholding the traditional methods as this bridges him and his work to his ancestors, thereby embodying great authenticity.
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.
Hunt enjoys collaborating on pieces and working with other artists on new projects. In the future, Hunt plans to expand his practice by utilizing different media, including metal engraving.
As an apprentice of the late master carver Beau Dick, Cole Speck continues to promote Kwakwaka’wakw culture through his practice and the knowledge gained from his mentor.
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.