Marcel Russ was born March 10, 1973 in Queen Charlotte City, Haida Gwaii. Marcel Russ is from the Raven Clan there. Haida parents after whom he takes his rightful place as a Haida, according to the clan system, raised him. Major influences in his life have been his culture, the lifestyle, and the values of his people. Being raised with the influences of native heritage helped to shape his unique world view, values and beliefs. Artisans who influenced him from an early age were his father Ron Russ, Grandfather and his uncle, Chris Russ. The Russ’s are well known argillite carvers of the Haida Nation, and his ancestors on his grandmother’s side were also renowned carvers.
Marcel began argillite carving at the age of eight and started carving in wood when he was twelve. His argillite and wood carvings have been collected internationally and one of his pieces can be seen at the Museum of Northern British Columbia. In the spring of 1999 he exhibited with his father at the Museum of Man in New York.
Marcel’s art reflects his interest in the complexity of multiple meanings. Raven, the trickster figure especially inspires him – a figure of great power with human weakness writ large. Currently, he explores the movement of transforming identities, the animal and human world, the changing shapes of the Raven, the Human, the Sea Wolf and the Killerwhale.
One of Marcel’s goals is to document on film his carving of a totem pole, from the selection of the tree to the pole raising ceremony. He also looks forward to writing a book about his art, the culture of his peoples and his travels.
Marcel likes to carve intricate designs out of argillite and wood. Marcel’s work often incorporates contemporary ideas into traditional design. Each piece of work that he starts has to be ‘finished’ in his mind before he picks up his tools that will bring it to life. Carving is not a career or hobby for Marcel, it is a dedication to the beauty and strength of his heritage. Through his carving, he hopes to create an awareness and respect for the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest.