Cooper Wilson Biography & Art

I started carving when I was 17. Some of the other artist got me carving. I used to sell pieces for several artists like Donald Edgars, Fred Davis, Martin Williams, John and Harold Yeltatzie, and Richard and Louis Widen. They all helped me to get started carving. I prefer to carve argillite, but I love to carve ivory as well. I carved a large walrus tusk with many killer whale and ravens intetwined on it. It has deer atlers supporting it on a large argillite base with many carved killer whale figures on the base. I also carve wood, gold, silver and copper. I’ve done six limited edition silk screen prints  a Wolf, a pregnant Raven, a killer whale with a raven, a bear, a double eagle frog drum design, and a young eagle. I have also done some desings for  some button blankets . I do a lot of Raven sculptures and Killer Whales because these are my clan crests. I belong to the Kun Laanas clan from White Creek.

When I’m not carving I like to hang out with my kids, try and relax but I don’t really know when I’m not carving. I really only have a good relationship with my art. I don’t seem to have time for relationships with people.

I’m building a longhouse as a teaching studio, gallery space. gathering place and my home. I guess it’s for everything.  Life is pretty good for me; I like to see my kids doing artwork and being interested in their culture. I love to carve and I’m happy when I am able to follow through with projects I start such as my new longhouse studio.

I have been selling my artwork everywhere. ( Alaska, California, Arizona, New York and across Canada} I sell to private collector, Museums and art Galleries. In May 2005 I had five of my sculptures in an argillite show held at the Masters Gallery in Calgary Alberta. In June 2008 I participated in another art show at the Master’s Gallery. A new book called Breathing Stone written by Carol Sheehan on up and coming argillite artists was launched in 2008. I had many of my pieces featured in this book. As well as pictures of a large sculpture being carved from beginning to end.

I was born on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) February 16th 1962 to two Haida parents. My mother was of the Raven clan. She died when I was young so my grandmother and grandfather along with my dad raised me. They taught me about food gathering and living off the land. My biological father is a great grandson of the well-known Haida carver Charles Edenshaw. I was sent to residential school when I was in my teens and when I returned to Old Massett I started carving the black slate called argillite. By the age of sixteen I was supporting myself by selling other artists carvings and then these artist encouraged me to start to learn how to carve. They helped me make the tools I needed and showed me how to improve on my pieces. I started to sell my pieces to gift shops galleries, museums, and private collectors from all over the world. I have lots of children who are very important to me. I have to work very hard at my artwork to support my children. I have four boys and three girls. I also have four grand daughters and two grandsons. I love to carve, mostly argillite and ivory, sometimes wood, gold and silver.
I love to shoot basketballs with my kids.

In August 2009 I helped my son Donnie on carving a 30foot wood totem pole which was raised in Old Masset. In November 2009 I completed an 8-foot totem pole in wood and had several young artists under my mentorship. This pole was raised at the entrance to Old Massett in June 2010.

My artwork is my spiritual side. It is my beliefs and my strength. Ideas come to me and I am able to transform them into my art. I spend a great deal of my time helping to teach others to carve. My goal is to finish my longhouse next year and teach  young people who are interested in what I know about carving and designing