Artist: Valencia M. Bird
Tribal Affiliation: Cree
Birthplace: St. Paul, AB
Valencia M. Bird is Cree, from the Saddle Lake First Nation, which is located northeast of Edmonton by St. Paul, Alberta. She was raised on a 365 acre farm in Alberta, where she had spent much of her childhood free time deep within the forests, developing a close connection to the land and wildlife. It was at the farm, playing with natural mud and clay, when Valencia’s art career began.
In 1989, she moved from the farm to the city of Edmonton and spent much of her free time in the provincial museum of Alberta, the Citadel Theater, and the local libraries. She spent hours drawing the wildlife exhibits at the museum; this time would serve her well in designing prototypes for her carving career which began in 1998.
1n 1998, Valencia would watch her uncle, Donnie Bird, carve in his shop. She spent several months hanging around the shop, and one day, her uncle offered her a piece of stone and told her, “You’ve been watching long enough now, you should know what to do”.
Thus, began Valencia’s career within the art of capturing and bringing out the spirits within the stone. She mentored under her uncle solid for a year, and then branched onto her own to discover her own style.
Valencia has a deep reverence for the northern elements, and as one can see, that influence can be seen within her art. Clear flowing movement, well rounded curves, and deep emotion emit within each piece. Much the same way Old Man Coyote blew smoke on the clay figurines to bring life to Turtle Island, Valencia offers sacred tobacco to the spirit of the stone, which then shows itself coming out from the bulk of the rock.
Valencia has carved grizzly, black, and polar bears, in different poses, standing, walking, and dancing, digging, and fishing, jumping, and swimming. She has carved buffalo, seals, owls, and eagles, and several whales. Several of her pieces have been figurative, often depicting the true ruggedness of natural life, mother and child, the hunter, the lovers, each piece touches the inner chi of the viewer and connects to the inner true nature.
She has worked with serpentine, alabaster, chlorite, African wonderstone, catalinite (commonly referred to as pipestone), and both BC and Brazilian soapstone.
Her pieces have sold both locally within Canada, as well as internationally. Some of her pieces have been sold to collectors from Germany, Thailand, Switzerland and Hong Kong and Japan.