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David A
Neel

David A. Neel is a carver, jeweller, painter, printmaker, writer, and photographer who comes from a family of traditional Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw artists. In addition to apprenticing with carvers in Alert Bay, British Columbia, he received training in writing and photography from the University of Kansas and Mount Royal College in Calgary. Neel is also the author of Our Chiefs and Elders and The Great Canoes. He is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw traditional art and culture. Neel lives in Vancouver.

Award History

Jury Citation

“A spellbinding memoir with universal reach, The Way Home tells how David A. Neel overcame great loss — the early death of his Kwakiutl father and estrangement from his culture — to become one of Canada’s finest artists. Neel’s story hinges on the chance sighting, while working as a portrait photographer in Texas, of a haunting Northwest Coast mask from the 1890s. Inspired to move home to Vancouver and apprentice himself to leading Indigenous carvers, he discovers only later that the mask which sparked his journey was made by his own great-grandfather. Beautifully told and illustrated — Neel’s work has been shown at the Smithsonian and the Venice Biennale — Neel's memoir is written with the same calm mastery he brings to all his art. This is a wise, eloquent, and deeply moving book.”

— 2020 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury (Helen Knott, Sandra Martin, and Ronald Wright)

Works recognized by WT