More About Donnie Edenshaw
Donnie Edenshaw otherwise known as Gaju Xial, meaning "Song and Dance Man" is the son of Haida artist Cooper Wilson.
Donnie Edenshaw is a member of the Skedans Raven clan. He was born in Queen Charlotte City, Haida Gwaii September 15th 1978. He was raised in Old Massett, were he continues to live with his family, wife Beverly and two children Mya and Sara.
As a young child he had a very strong connection with his Haida culture. He grew up on the land: fishing salmon, hunting deer, and digging clams. He was drawn to Haida singing and dancing, and he joined t he K’a.asdsnee dance group which Claude Davidson and his wife Sarah held in their home. Even at a young age his talents were recognized. He performed at Expo 86 as well as being featured in the National Geographic in 1987. Donnie’s interest in his traditions made for a natural transition into carving. He started carving in 1989, at age eleven under the guidance of his father Cooper Wilson. He practiced by doing pencil drawings of argillite pendants that his father made, and then eventually started to carve his own.
Donnie’s major works include many argillite sculptures that are in private collections around t he world. He has also established his name as a wood carver. His first large piece being an 11-meter totem pole raised as the tallest pole in Japan at the time, which carved with his Uncle Guujaaw. He has complete many poles of his own since then and one is a 50-foot pole, which stands in front of the Community Hall in Old Massett.
He has been called to perform songs and dances individually and with groups at many local feasts and national and international functions. Aside from Expo 86 he has performed in Japan twice, as well as Hawaii, Alaska, and New York City. In New York he danced at the American Museum of Natural History which featured two of his art pieces in The Totems to Turquoise show.
Donnie has accepted guidance and has learned from many Haida carvers, including Cooper Wilson, Chris White, Fed Davis, Jim Hart, Vernon Williams and he studied master works of Charles Edenshaw, Bill Reid, and John Robson. He is now instrumental in inspiring and passing on this tradition to the next generation of young carvers.
“There is something about being Haida. By comparison to other nations, a lot of people know about us. While other people have adopted Haida Gwaii as home, I’ve lived here all my life. All I do – the art, dancing and singing – is what I have to do. It is a responsibility to show people what we have. Just as I continue to learn about my culture – I have to teach others as well.” –Donnie Edenshaw
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