Articulating Snapper Mask
Red Snapper is one of the many creatures who lives in the undersea world where Komakwa is Chief. Red Snapper lives on the bottom of the ocean, and comes out to dance during Potlatch.
This piece measures approximately 14" long by 13 wide by 15" high with the stand. This latest creation is available for $2500. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Rupert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rupert Scow comes from a line of Kwakwaka'wakw carvers living in the Alert Bay/Gilford Island area of Northern Vancouver Island. The Scow family, known as "The people of the Bear," is Kwikwasut'inuxw from the village of Gwa'yasdams on Gilford Island. Through heredity, the Bear and the Gwa'yasdams crest of the Sisiutl, or double headed sea serpent, are family crests. Rupert's ancestors were famous for their beautifully carved totem poles. Their articulated masks were danced by dancers wearing their family house crests on their regalia of spectacular button blankets, aprons, and sometimes leggings, and arm bands. During the short, dark days of winter at the family Potlatches, they danced and sang the dramatic stories of their histories. Potlatches are major family group ceremonies that mark important events in the lives of Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations (indigenous) people. Families gained status and respect based not on how much wealth they had, but on how much wealth they were able to give away to the witnesses who attended. Today, the events are mostly ceremonial focusing on relationships and history with less emphasis on business. Gifts to the witnesses are still major features of the Potlatches. Rupert and the other artists in his family (Brothers: Len, Barry, Ray, Alfred, and Brian; Children: Misty and Shaun) still carry on the proud tradition of telling indigenous history through the masks and totem poles they carve.
Kwakwaka'wakw carvers often cover the carving with color: white background, black form lines, and red secondary colors along with brown, green, yellow, and orange. The dramatic exaggerated shapes, bright colours, inlaid shells such as abalone, dentalium, as well as stones and metals, with shredded or braided cedar bark are features of the wood art of this Pacific Northwest Coast art style. Large masks with many moving parts operated by strings, enhance the dramatic effect of dances in the Bighouse.
There are several indigenous art styles among the First Nations along the Pacific Northwest Coast from Alaska, through British Columbia to Oregon. They use distinctive style and form and artworks can be identified accordingly as to area, First Nation/tribe/band and even individual artist. Rupert's style is traditional Kwakwaka'wakw with both individual touches and flair as well as contemporary innovations based on customer requests.
Rupert credits Kwakwaka'wakw artists Beau Dick, Wayne Alfred, Vince Shaughnessy, Shawn Karpes, Stephen Bruce and brother Barry Scow for his inspirations.
- Birthday: 7 June 1957
- Website: rupertscow.ca
- City: Duncan, BC, Canada
- Email: email@example.com
- Freelance Art: Available
- Workshop Instructor: Available
Rupert is an artist currently based in Duncan, BC. He began learning to carve cedar in his 20s. He soon developed his own style, and continues to keep the tradition of carving alive by teaching others the traditional techniques. With his great sense of humour, detailed steps in an order that makes sense, careful demonstration and oversight, as a teacher Rupert makes sure that each student creates a piece of art to be proud of. A world-class artist, whose work is in museums and art galleries and on display with collectors around the world, Rupert creates original artwork as well as making himself available to teach both experienced artists and total beginners of every culture. After a stroke left his dominant right side paralyzed, Rupert, never doubting for a moment his ability to walk again, also determined to use his non-dominant left side to draw, paint and carve again. This positive outlook, and his determination to say "yes" to anything that interests him, makes it encouraging and uplifting to be around him. He has found a way to use traditional and modern power tools to creatively transform the stories of his culture into wood, stone, jewelry, and natural materials at the same high quality as before.
Rupert's Artistic Beginning
Rupert is one of seven brothers, four of whom are successful artists that often collaborate on larger projects. Rupert and his brother Leonard Scow started carving in the Workshop in their village. The boys were young and enthusiastic. Skilled carvers including Wayne Alfred, Beau Dick, and others worked in this shop and gave the boys pointers. Rupert and Leonard became so fascinated by carving that they would spend up to 20 hours at a time carving. Their mother Sarah, also a carver, would bring them food. "We learned fast. We worked hard. Carving, it must be in our blood."
Rupert is Kwikwasut'inuxw "The people of the Bear," from the village of Gwa'yasdams on Gilford Island. Gwa'yasdums village is a small community of up to 70 permanent residents located on Gilford Island, northeast of Vancouver Island between Knight and Kingcome Inlets. The village is the traditional home of the Kwikwasut'inuxw people; however, throughout history a number of groups have used the site as a winter village. For Rupert, it was an ideal place to nurture artists. Rupert's lineage includes:
- Great grandfather - Chief John Scow
- Great Grandfather - Chief Mungo Martin (mother's side) acclaimed Kwakwaka'wakw artist
- Uncle - Alfred Scow, the first Aboriginal Judge ever appointed to B.C. Provincial Court
Rupert tells us the story of Kolus the bird on his great grandfathers headdress. In ceremonies the chiefs are permitted to wear headdresses with their clan crests. The ceremonies could go on for weeks with the host village feeding and housing many visitors who paddled over from villages in neighbouring areas. Kolus came down from his celestial home and married a Scow woman ancestor. Through this marriage the Scows attained high ranking in their community. Rupert carved a mask telling this story.
In 2008 Rupert expanded his artistic expression and graduated from the Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts Program at the Native Education College in Vancouver, which was led by Kwakwaka'wakw/Haida artist Dan Wallace.
In July of 2016, Rupert suffered a stroke which placed his carving career on hold. There were many physical as well as mental challenges to work through. With rehabilitation and tremendous support from care givers, family and friends, his career resumed. In October of 2018, Rupert was a participating artist in the Art after Stroke event held by the March of Dimes at the Roundhouse in Vancouver BC. He donated the proceeds from the auction of a mask ($1000.00) to the cause. Production is not as prolific as before, but his artwork and sense of well-being is in a better place. It is his hope that this website will provide a closer more intimate artist/client relationship. His work can still be found in galleries but he hopes to become independent moving forward.
- Started to carve professionally in 1992
- Works primarily with red and yellow cedar
- Produced a variety of artistic efforts: masks, boxes, bowls, rattles, talking sticks, plaques, panels, totem poles.....
- Collaborated with other WoodCarvers and Artists
- Integrates traditional and contemporary design
- Custom hand-crafted work
- 2009-2011, as a voulnteer at the Longhouse Church in Vancouver
- 2010 in Penticton Carving Club - project: Grouse mask
- 2012 at Sorrento Shuswap School of Carving - project: Bumblebee
- 2013 at Sorrento Shuswap School of Carving (with brother Len) - project: Huxw-Hukw mask
- 2014-15 at Roberts Creek - 2 classes: Moon mask and Bear/Eagle mini-totem
- 2015 - present: Peninsula Carvers, Surrey BC: Guest Instructor
- 2015 - present: Richmond Carvers, Richmond BC: Guest Instructor
- 2018 - present: Cowichan Brain Injury Society in Duncan, BC as a volunteer Carving Instructor
- 2021 - Sept. 12: Karen Magnussen Recreational Center, North Vancouver - project: Carving an Eagle Plaque
- 2022 - Apr. 18-22: Cowichan Valley Arts Council - Mask Carving Workshop
Links of Interest
The Gallery is a work in progress. Details will be available at a future date. Pictures shown are some examples of past work and a few on-going ones. Feel free to inquire about availability on anything you see as well as something new designed to suit your circumstances.
Rupert began his carving career primarily as a mask maker. He has diversified into many other endeavors such as bentwood boxes, bowls, panels/plaques, salmon rattles, and mini/large totem poles. Some are set projects, while other works require custom and personalization appropriate to a client's story.
Wood is the primary medium, but have also worked with soapstone
Drawing and painting form the basic tenets for Rupert's Carving
Over 10 years leading carving classes. References available on request.
Furniture, special panels, wall plaques.
Word of mouth from satisfied clients. References available on request.
Throughout his artistic career, Rupert has has the pleasure to meet and work with clients, storytell, teach others to carve, do custom work, and most of all to share the richness of the west coast. Testimonials given are from a small sampling of people with diversified backgrounds. As this website is in it's infancy, more testimonials are on the way.
As a perrenial student of WoodWorking, I have had the pleasure to learn and work with Rupert. He has a wealth of history, knowledge, skill sets, all from a Westcoast Indigenious perspective.
Retired Woodworking Teacher/Carver
Over the last 11 years I have carved several masks with Rupert Scow as instructor. (A world-class artist, he teaches artists & total beginners.) After a stroke 3 years ago, Rupert now uses his left side to creatively transform the stories of his culture into high quality wood, stone, & natural materials.
Karin Clark MEd
publisher, writer, illustrator, teacherClick here for Raven Publishing
Rupe instructs my carving club, with good nature and humour. He honours his indigenous culture through his designs and carvings which always tell a story which he is happy to share.
Sculptor "giving life to wonderful stone"Click here to view the Sculpture
Rupert's class instructions are clear and easy to follow, but the best part is the creative atmosphere and warm carving experience. His storytelling exhibits his deep commitment to his spirituality and his rich cultural heritage. Time well spent!
If you require more information about artwork, availability, timelines .......... or if you are looking for someone to provide a hands-on workshop, feel free to fill in the form below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Lake Cowichan, Vancouver Island, BC, CANADA