GITXSAN TOTEM CARVER SIMOGYET GEEL (WALTER HARRIS) DIED
Born June 10, 1931, in Kispiox, British Columbia (B.C.), Harris was a hereditary chief of the Gitxsan nation whose art included work in silver, gold, silk screen, and wood. However, he is best known for carving totem poles for Kispiox, Ottawa, Paris, Japan, and Vancouver. Before becoming an artist, he was a sawmill operator, carpenter and fisherman. While working on a replica of a Gitxsan village, he was intrigued by the artwork and enrolled in the Kitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art in 1969. Harris became senior instructor of wood sculpture there from 1972 to 1985. His style adhered to Gitxsan tradition. In 1978, he was appointed to the Fine Arts Committee of Canada that selects artifacts to be purchased by the federal government of Canada. Health issues ended his productivity in 1987, though his two sons have carried on the carving tradition. In 2003, he was awarded the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts and in 2005, Harris received Officer of the Order of Canada.
Sources: “Walter Harris (1931-2009), Gitxsan artist biography and portfolio," Spirit Wrestler Gallery. Retrieved 6/5/2019, http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php?artists_id=926". Underrated Canadian artist: Walter Harris," View on Canadian Art, 1/22/2009. Retrieved 6/5/2019,http://viewoncanadianart.com/2009/01/22/underrated-canadian-artist-walter-harris/ Photo: Water Harris, Red Cedar Totem Pole. Courtesy of Lattimer Gallery.