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Morris Sutherland

Nuu-chah-nulth Nation
View artist biography

Morris Sutherland

Nuu-chah-nulth Nation
Morris (Moy) Sutherland is from Ahousaht First Nations, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Moy carries two traditional names:  Hiish-Miik, which translates as “someone who gets whatever they are after” and Chiotun from the Coast Salish village of Sliammon, which translates as “someone who helps.” Born on January 4, 1974, Moy grew up immersed in his culture and its traditions.  

Moy has submerged himself in his artist career for 20 years. In 1994, Moy began his artistic career in Alert Bay, BC, learning the principals of carving. Upon mastering basic techniques, Moy moved home to his traditional territory to learn more about Nuu-chah-nulth art forms thus broadening his horizons to include the Nuu-chah-nulth style. Even at the beginning of his artistic career, Moy demonstrated intelligence and meticulousness as an artist.

In 2000, Moy’s artistic development became further focused when he began an apprenticeship with world-renowned Nuu-chah-nulth artist Arthur Thompson.  Arthur mentored Moy until Arthur’s death in March of 2003. While working with Arthur, Moy furthered his understanding of Nuu-chah-nulth design structure and refined his skills. Through assisting with, and later working on projects together, Arthur also shared his vast knowledge of totem pole carving, traditional bentwood box construction, and articulated mask structure and assembly.  More importantly Moy also learned the cultural significance of form structure, design and carving methods from Arthur. The influence and lessons of his mentor and friend are a large influence on Moy’s present day art.  

Moy has the benefit of having learned his craft from both Kwakwaka’wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth artists. He has used the experience to broaden his understanding of all Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations’ art forms.  Although he is very mindful of staying within the traditional rules and values of his culture, he strives to find ways to set himself apart from other artists.  He enjoys exploring different media and he is refining his own unique style, both with modern and traditional techniques. For Moy, his art is very deeply rooted in his culture.  He finds it both spiritually rewarding and educational.

Moy comes from a very traditionally rooted family, where the Nuu-chah-nulth culture is a large part of everyday life.  Until his tenure with Arthur Thompson, he was pursuing a degree in anthropology, focusing on the traditional aspects of First Nations’ culture.  For Moy art and anthropology are natural interests and connect to each other; he believes both meet on a journey into the history of his people; a journey that, for him, is a path of understanding and appreciating the connection between the natural world and his culture, and the expression of it in artistic form.

Moy's work can be found in galleries, museums, magazines & books, and private collections throughout the world.

Artist's Quote
“For me, the meaning of life is to learn of and understand my cultural surroundings, so that this knowledge can be preserved and used in everyday life. Like our elders before us passed this knowledge on, so must we to our descendants. In this manner, respect becomes an integral part of life, respect for everything.  I draw my knowledge and inspiration from the teachings of those whom I respect, and I incorporate these into everything I do."

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