Born to Jim and Diane Work in Campbell River in 1975, Kwakwaka'wakw artist Clinton Work grew up learning Kwakwaka’wakw stories and preliminary Kwak’wala from Diane Matilpi.
An avid illustrator from childhood, Work began applying his artistic skills to traditional Kwakwaka’wakw form and design in the mid 1990’s. He has apprenticed and collaborated with Cree artist Phil Ashbee, helping to complete a major installation "Salmon Coming Home" at the Nanaimo Port Theatre in July 2000.
In 2007, Work began experimenting as a silversmith, a skill he learned from Saulteaux/Ojibway artist Kelvin Thompson, whose work we also have in our collection. His natural sense of design and unusual motif choices sets his work apart from what is often available.
Work’s masks attract international buyers due to his precision and finishing consistency, one of which involves lightly sanding his masks after painting them to expose the natural grain, rendering an antiqued quality. Well versed in plant technology, Work harvests, cures, prepares and weaves his own cedar bark adornments.
Work has delved into several mediums and has also restored damaged art pieces with impeccable precision. He has created a number of pieces for Copper Moon Gallery since 2004 including our logo design, numerous masks, headdresses, bentwood box designs, drum paintings, woven headbands, and custom jewelry pieces.
CLINTON WORK COLLECTION
Frog Bracelet by Clinton Work
Frogs warn humans of imminent danger. Frogs represent stability, foundations and communication, which correlate with environmental observations about contamination and a worrisome decline in frog populations. Frog and Salmon both represent fertility in different regions along the coast. As a creature who lives in both water and on land, Frog is respected for being adaptable and knowledgeable. He is an important assistant to medicine men.
Frog faces are depicted with large round or oval eyes, tiny nostrils and long, closed lips that are often smiling and sometimes have a protruding tongue. The tongue represents transfer of knowledge. Frog is most recognizable when the whole body is shown, as the front and hind legs have webbed feet.
Cheryl Shearar Understanding Northwest Coast Art (2000)
Jay Miller Tsimshian Culture: A Light Through the Ages (2000)