Chief Mungo Martin was a First Nations Master Artist and Traditionalist from the Kwakwak'awakw people. He carved totem poles and masks and was active in the traditional life of his people. A singer and composer of traditional songs he is credited with composing over 200 songs during his lifetime. He was a student of his step-father, Charlie James, and taught his granddaughter, Ellen Neel, about the tradition of Kwakwak'awakw wood carving.
When you see the work of Kwakiutl artist, Bob Harris, you can't help but ask; how can this artist be unrecognized after so many years? His carvings are in many public collections and are illustrated in numerous books, often appearing without attribution. He has a strong personal style that is easily identifiable, and his body of work has helped define traditional North West Coast Native art. In looking at the pieces on this page, you may find that they appear familiar, archetypical even. Though the artist is something of an enigma, his work has been hugely influential, and well documented (only visually), though almost nothing about the man has been published.
Years ago, when I was a young carver learning about my culture, I was in the Bronx, New York exploring the collection at the Museum of the North American Indian (formerly the Heye collection), when I found a large and impressive Kwakiutl mask, on the top shelf of a long forgotten storeroom. I immediately recognized it as the work of my grandfather, Charlie James. I asked the conservator who the artist was: there was no record of the carver. A few years later I came across a long forgotten section of a totem pole in the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta. It was obviously the work of Charlie James, though again the institution had no record of the artist. I came to realize that although his work is in many public institutions, and is reproduced in numerous publications, his name and his contribution to Northwest Coast Native art is not widely appreciated.
Too see the full collection please visit: North West Native American Art