Artist: Nathan Wilkerson
Tribal Affiliation: Gitxsan
Birthplace: Terrace, B.C.
My Native American ancestry is through the Gitxsan tribe in Hazelton (Gitanmaax) B.C. Canada. I am a member of the Wolf Clan (Lax Gibuu), house of “Amagyet”. My mother’s grandparents are Peter Gordon Wilson and Amelia Angus both from the Hazelton / Kispiox (Ans’payaxw) area. I was raised in Terrace, B.C. and spent most of my time working on our family farm, Skeena River Vegetable Farms.
At the age of 10 I was first introduced to our artwork by two different instructors (Randy Adams and Robert Stanley) who came to the elementary school (Cassie Hall Elementary School) and taught a number of indian art lessons to our fourth grade class. Both instructors were very skilled artist and that first impression left a lasting mark in my mind.
At age 11, I attended a seminar put on by Freda Diesing at the Northern Lights Art Studio. My mother was the one who wanted me to attend and after the lecture she approached Freda and arranged private lessons, so that I could be properly schooled in the arts of my people. From January 1984 until March 1985 I received private lessons drawing and carving lessons through Freda Diesing. I learned the basic rules and concepts of the artwork and became familiar with most of the animals and their distinguishing characteristics (ie. wolf, eagle, bear, beaver, hawk, raven etc…) I was also fortunate in that we spent a good deal of time actually carving out a number of pieces from Red Cedar and Yellow Cedar. From this I was able to learn the basics of wood carving (bas relief only) and how to take a piece from simple artwork to a finished product.
The 7th carving I completed under Freda’s tutelage was a killer whale design which was submitted to the International Museum of Children’s Art, where it has remained on exhibit for a number of years.
Following this initial exposure to my artistic heritage like most teenagers I focused my attention on other pursuits and my academics.
In 1990, I graduated high school from Caledonia Senior Secondary and then moved to Provo, UT to begin attending Brigham Young University. I served a two year mission for the LDS church in Nagoya, Japan (1991-1993). In 1995 I married my wife Cynthia Joy Wilkerson.
In 1998, I graduated from Brigham Young University in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Math and Japanese. We lived for a short time in San Jose, California working for IBM. Then I returned to Utah to start a web hosting business with a friend that I had grew up with in Terrace.
We incorporated NPS Internet Solutions, Inc in 1999 and I devoted the majority of my time and effort to this business endeavor for the next seven years of my life.
At the beginning 2006 it was decided that we would be selling the hosting business to another corporation and at this point I was able to take a step back and look at where my life had taken me. I realized that I had neglected one of my talents, my artwork. I made the decision at that point to never again completely remove myself from this tradition and since then I have begun to pursue it even more seriously and with a sense of purpose that was previously missing.
We moved to Seattle Washington area in early 2007 and are excited to be now living here in the Northwest.
I owe a great deal to Freda Diesing for the training I have received and also for the influence her work has had on my own. I feel compelled to also mention other great artists whose work has had a significant impact on me. This list includes but is not limited to: Charles Edenshaw, Bill Reid, Robert Davidson, Don Yeomans and most recently David A. Boxley.
I prefer a more classical approach in my artwork with heavier form lines and a look that is a combination of Gitxsan, Haida and Tshimshian influences. I am always studying and trying to emulate the great masters of the past and present but at the same time offering my own creative interpretations.
My wife is very supportive of my artwork and often helps in the composition of many of the pieces. We have five very active children and it is only with her support that I am able to take the time to generate new ideas and then execute them to the best of my ability.
Nathaniel P. Wilkerson