Robert Charles Davidson

Robert Charles Davidson, Haida artist (b at Hydaburg, Alaska 4 Nov 1946). Master carver, printmaker and jeweller, Robert Davidson is great-grandson and heir to the legacy of Charlie Edenshaw. Robert first learned carving from his grandfather, Robert Davidson, Sr. In 1966 he apprenticed to Bill Reid and the next year followed him to the Vancouver School of Art.

While a student, Davidson became an able instructor at the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Native Art at Ksan, Hazelton, BC. He secured a grant to carve the 12 m Bear Mother pole, his first, and the first totem pole to be carved and erected on Haida Gwaii in living memory of Haida elders. Innovation has accompanied maturity, and he has expanded the boundaries of Northwest Coast image and design in increasingly complex and unconventional serigraphs, jewellery and sculpture.

In 1980, Robert hosted a monumental two-day potlatch dedicated to the "Tribute to the Living Haida" and adopted Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka, or West coast) artist, Joe David. Robert Davidson's 3 monumental totem poles, The Three Watchmen, erected in 1984 in the Maclean Hunter Building, Toronto, reflected the artist's deep personal commitment to innovative art, and to the evolving culture of the Haida people. In 1984, a large bronze Frog was commissioned for PepsiCo's sculpture garden in Purchase, NY.

Raven Bringing Light to the World was another large bronze sculpture commissioned for the Canadian Museum of History in 1986. That same year a second PepsiCo commission resulted in a three pole grouping, Three Variations of Killer Whale Myth. Often quoted and the subject of many articles, films, videos and books, Robert Davidson has brought international attention to Haida art. A retrospective of his long and distinguished career was celebrated in an exhibition, "Robert Davidson, Eagle of the Dawn," that travelled from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the Museum of Civilization in 1993.

Commissioned by several private international collectors to do monumental work, Davidson has an ongoing commitment to the continuity of Haida culture in the Rainbow Creek Dancers - a contemporary dance troupe he founded - supplying them and the Haida community with masks and other objects used in potlatches. In 1992 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria.