Pugwis Mask

Artist: Bill Henderson
Nation: Kwa kwa ka'wakw
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Kwa Kwa ka’ wakw Master Carver Bill Henderson carefully chooses a beautiful piece of cedar wood and turns it into captivating work of traditional Northwest Coast art. He carves numerous creations from small individual masks to masterpiece totem poles from 2 feet to as high as 42 feet tall.

Bill was born and raised in Campbell River, British Columbia by culturally devoted parents Sam and May Henderson. Bill began carving traditionally in 1957 at the age of eight and made his first piece in grade one for his teacher. Soon after, he began apprenticing with his late father and renowned master carver, Sam Henderson Sr. Sam was not only an eminent Nak’waxda’xw carver but also a devoted protector of ancient cultural traditions. Bill was and continues to be influenced by the traditional style of his father as well as the late Willie Seaweed.

One of the most successful Master Carvers of his time, Bill takes his role in the art world very seriously and passes on his knowledge and skills graciously to many of his nephews. He also takes time to share his culture and art with the local community, reaching out to children of all ages, hosting school tours and visiting the local schools as a guest speaker.

Bill’s creations are rich with the cultural heritage as he continually invents masks, plaques, canoes, paddles, and his famous totem poles. Initiated into the sacred Hamatsa society in 1983, Bill’s influence is also found in the continuation of traditional potlatch ceremonies, which enrich and inspire the community and visitors from abroad.

With sixteen siblings, Bill has emerged as one of the great carvers of his family and distinctively carries on the Henderson legacy within each piece he creates. He has been featured in many prestigious galleries across North America, and continues to inspire and awe with his creations. Bill has works of art all over the world, creating a dynamic impression whether it’s in Japan, New York, England or France.