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David Neel

David Neel, born in 1960 and from Kwakwaka'wakw community, is a professional artist, photographer, and writer. His creative media includes: wood sculpture, photography, and writing. He works within the “tradition” of Kwagiutl art, in addition to contemporary works, which deal with current history. Neel’s photography appears in magazines and books, as well as in museums and galleries internationally.

He has trained as a photographer in the U.S.A. for several years, with some of the countries top professionals. Besides assignment work he has always completed personal projects. Today he photographs contemporary Native Indian culture for publication and exhibition.

As a traditional carver, he trained with Kwakwaka’wakw artists Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick, as well as extensive study of museum collections. Neel draws on his Kwagiutl heritage for his artistic direction. From his father, Dave Neel Sr., he inherits a rich artistic heritage. Dave Sr., a Fort Rupert (Tsaxis Kwagiutl, was taught to carve by his Mother, Ellen Neel and her uncle Mungo Martin. Both Mungo and Ellen received their instruction her grandfather, Charlie James. Neel uses the work of his ancestors as the starting point for his own artistic interpretation.

The Way Home
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

David Neel was an infant when his father, a Kwakwa╠▒ka╠▒’wakw artist, died, triggering a series of events that would separate him from his homeland and its rich cultural traditions for twenty-five years. When he saw a Potlatch mask carved by his great-great-grandfather in a museum in Fort Worth, Texas, the encounter caused the aspiring photographer to wonder if he could return to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Drawing on memory, legend, and his own art and photographs, Neel tells the story of his struggle to reconnect with his culture after decades of separation and a childhood marred by trauma and abuse. David returned to the Pacific Coast, where he apprenticed with master carvers from his father’s village on Vancouver Island, and his career as an author and artist took him to the United States and to Mexico, to Europe and back again to British Columbia. Along the way, he met and photographed some of the most talented artists and Indigenous people of his generation. His travels helped him grow as a man and become an accomplished and prolific artist, but they also reconfirmed the healing power of returning home.

The Way Home is a testament to the strength of the human spirit to overcome great obstacles and to the power and endurance of Indigenous culture and art.

Educator Information
This memoir is a must-read for anyone interested in Canadian art and artists, particularly Indigenous art, as well as those learning about or active in cultural revitalization in Indigenous communities.

Subjects / Themes: Indigenous Art, Canadian Art, Memoir.

Additional Information
192 pages | 8.00" x 10.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
Authentic Indigenous Artwork