Andy Wilbur-Peterson was born in 1955 in Shelton Washington and has lived on the Skokomish Reservation all his life amid a wealth of culture. Andy's parents Arlene and Bert Wilbur, grandfather Andrew Peterson, uncle Peter Peterson and his great aunt Bertha Allen, just to name a few, all played major roles in his life.
The artist’s grandfather and father were two of the biggest influences in his life. His grandfather gave him dignity, honor, and a promise for his future. His father (who continues to live in the traditional ways), taught him the skills of fishing, hunting, and preserving foods. Through him, Andy learned to carve, and learned the legends and history of his people. Together, his parents and grandfather gave him the structure needed to develop and enhance his life.
Inspired to become a carver after visiting a museum exhibit of Northwest Coast art, he began carving and exploring various art forms at a young age. Later, Andy took part in an effort to revive the art of making traditional Skokomish steam-bent boxes. He went on to study Salish art and used traditional pieces as a basis for developing his own unique style.
In 1987, he worked with Greg Colfax, a Makah artist, on a 12 foot female Welcome Figure for Evergreen State College. In the mid-nineties, Andy worked with Steve Brown on a pole for Richmond Beach Park. While working on the pole, Brown introduced him to many types of carving tools. He also taught him the art of silversmithing and tool making. He now makes his own tools.
At the request of his grandfather, and being the fourth generation of the dignified name, the artist recently changed his name back to his birth name, Andrew Wilbur-Peterson. He now looks forward to his grandson and namesake, Thomas Andrew Peterson-Bluebird to carry on the Skokomish traditions, and perhaps he too will become a carver and carry on the legacy of Andrew Wilbur-Peterson.
He and his wife, Ruth, continue to research and contribute to the revival of the Salish art. They work primarily in wood and glass, and have collaborated on many art pieces. They have shared and taught their knowledge to many artists. They have mentored their children, Andrea Wilbur-Peterson and Bunni Wilbur-Peterson, who have become respected and successful artists today creating art in the Coast Salish style. Andy and Ruth look forward to working with their grandchildren to keep the Salish art form alive.
"Andy and I both grew up with elders who were in their late nineties and were still living in the traditional ways. We helped them with many things, from gathering to cleaning their house and cooking for them. In turn we were blessed to learn the traditions by living their lifestyle. We learned everything from gathering basket materials, to making baskets, medicines, wool weavings, to carving and learning the legends of our people. Over the last decade, we have learned to pull our own prints and bring glass to life! Our inspiration comes from our elders and the life we live and the legends left from the past".
Andy and Ruth Wilbur-Peterson