“All artists have to learn their own history and know themselves before they start creating, then you can work by that, leaving room for innovation.”
Born in 1961, Ken McNeil has spent a lifetime dedicated to his culture heritage which has been expressed through his artistic endeavors for the last 30 years. As a master carver, Ken works exclusively with wood and has created everything from small sculptures to massive totem poles.
While apprenticing with his uncle Dempsey Bob, who is an internationally-renowned artist, Ken assisted him with many of his monumental commissions as well as major corporate and private commissions of his own. For Expo 92 in Seville, Ken carved a totem pole with Stan Bevan and a house post for the First Nations House of Learning at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia.
In 2006, when the Northwest Community College in Terrace, BC opened, he taught First Nations Fine Arts. He has also taught classes at the University of Alaska in Sitka. As a founding instructor at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art in Terrace, he has enjoyed imparting his vast knowledge, experience and expertise to his students.
Ken is well known within the arts community and produced several major public works both nationally and abroad. A few of his local projects includes a 13-foot Grizzly Bear pole at Kitselas and four totems for the Muks-Kum-Ol Housing Society in Terrace.
2013 British Columbia Creative Achievement Award for First Nations’ Art