Charles Joseph was born in Alert Bay in 1959 and then raised on Turnour Island. He has spent most of his life on or near northern Vancouver Island, primarily spending his time between Fort Rupert and Alert Bay. Aside from carving, Charles has spent his time fishing and in forestry to earn a living and raise his family .
Speaking Kwak’wala fluently, he is a Hamatsa and a member of the Ma’amtagila band. During his early years he only spoke his native language and is heavily steeped in his culture, holding potlatches, fishing to feed his extended family, and producing his art to keep his culture alive. Reviving and extending the culture for future generations is an important part of what Charles does in his work and daily life in general. Acquiring some of these pieces is not only a sound investment and source of enjoyment, but a way to support the re-growth of a culture that could have been extinguished by earlier colonial policies and practices. Charles and his work is an integral part of this important process.
Over the years, and in an ongoing fashion, many have helped in informing Charles’ work either as tutors or colleagues, much thanks is extended to all. Those people would be his elders as well as Beau Dick, Wayne Alfred, Marcus Alfred, and Simon Dick.
On May 3rd, 2017, a pole designed and carved by Charles Joseph was officially unveiled in front of a delegation of Mohawk Chiefs, the Montreal Mayor, Denis Coderre, members of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, and members of the public. This pole will be on display in front of the Museum until the end of October, 2017.
All photo credits MBAM, Jean-François Brière.