Nathan Wilson has been a full-time artist since 2009. His preferred material to carve has always been red cedar. However, he often carves with other materials including birch, alder and yellow cedar. Currently, Nathan’s artistic energy is focused on creating masks, sculptures and relief carved panels for various galleries, as well as private commissions with various collectors.
Wood carving has been practised in Nathan’s family since the 1870s. His great great grandfather, Solomon Robertson carved the G'psgolox in the Kitlope village of Miskusa. In the summer of 2000, his uncles Henry Robertson, Derek Wilson and Barry Wilson carved replica totem poles to repatriate the old G'psgolox pole from a museum in Stockholm, Sweden. It is this history where Nathan gets his inspiration.
Nathan attended the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art in 2010. During his time there, he focused on improving his skills as a carver, painter and toolmaker. The teachings of the instructors helped give Nathan a solid foundation to build professional carving career, and visualize and attain new techniques in sculpture. Nathan’s mentors include his College instructors Dempsey Bob, Stan Bevan, Ken McNeil, and Dean Heron.
Nathan graduated with his diploma in First Nations Fine Arts in 2012. In 2014, he was commissioned by Mount Elizabeth Secondary School to carve an eight-foot totem pole, which is permanently housed with the school. The project was specifically set up for the students to observe the carving process. Students were able to participate and carve onto the pole under Nathan’s supervision in the beginning stages. Over the course of four months, he completed his first totem pole for his community.
In November 2014, the communities of Kitamaat Village and District of Kitimat came together to help raise the “Palaa-Gwa-La” pole in the main entrance of school. This was the first totem pole to be raised for either community in several decades.
Today, Nathan is instructing at the Freda Diesing school alongside his mentors. He is also working on his first solo exhibition with Steinbrueck Native Gallery in Seattle, Washington. The show will focus on oceanic mammals and creatures that inhabit the coast of British Columbia. The exhibition will open in early 2020.
Nathan’s work is inspired by events, encounters and understanding the natural world we live in. From encounters with grizzly and black bears, mountain goats and whales to attending feasts and totem pole raising ceremonies, these are all important in finding a deeper meaning to becoming a First Nations Artist.