Ernest Swanson, who holds the traditional Haida name, Giinowaan, is a Haida artist and proud father, from Old Massett, British Columbia, born in 1981. He currently lives in Victoria, BC.
As a matrilineal descendent of iconic Haida artist Charles Edenshaw and a grandson to the late Rufus Moody, Ernest continues his family’s legacy by creating traditional Haida art. He was "more or less" raised by his grandmother who recently passed. In 2004, he began to work with artists such as Jim McGuire, Christian White and Chief Edenso “James Hart”.
He has always been surrounded by artists and art-making. "I'm trying to think of my motivation for this work. Obviously it's cultural but it's funny you ask that because I've recently been trying to find meaning in my work," he said in a recent interview with the Steinbrueck Native Gallery. "I've been asking myself 'What am I adding?', 'What am I bringing to the community?'
Ernest is constantly working and reworking his crafts and the ways that he shows up in his community. "My idea is to always leave room for learning something new," he said.
Ernest has continued to display his works on regional, national, and international scales, working in wood, silver, gold, and argillite. Ernest works between the mediums of metal jewelry, visual art, argillite, wood, and totem pole carving. Recently, he has been creating miniature argillite pendants with engraved silver bezel settings and abalone inlays. "Carving is where I can escape," he stated.
Ernest also has a passion for working with youth, and has worked with diverse youth groups in HIV/AIDS awareness, mural paintings, drum making workshops, Haida language and history, dance classes, traditional storytelling, and designing workshops. He's worked with organizations including: The Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada, and the Old Massett Village Teen Centre.
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