KINGSTON — At 20, David Robert Boxley has learned traditional wood carving from his father, David Boxley.
Slowly but surely the younger Boxley is making a name for himself in the art world.
Today a 20-foot totem pole will be raised by the Quileute tribe in La Push.
This is Boxley’s first commissioned work. It will stand outside A-Ka-Lat Center, a place of gathering for the Quileute Tribe.
The red cedar carving depicts a thunderbird and gray whale, symbols of the Quileute tribe and a wolf symbolizing the elders. It took Boxley and his dad about two-months to carve.
“They wanted something that would represent the community,” Boxley said.
Boxley is a 1999 graduate of North Kitsap High School. Although he is young, he has had a lifetime of experience in terms of carving.
“I carved my first mask when I was six,” Boxley said.
He started selling his work in galleries when he was 13.
“To be able to carve animals and faces out of wood is a rush,” Boxley said.
Boxley is a Tsimshian tribal member from Metlakatla in Southeast Alaska. His father, who began carving in 1979, helped open up the cultural traditions of the tribe that had been slammed shut for hundreds of years.
“I grew up in a cultural resurgence,” he said.
“The culture was gone for so long, I feel like it’s important to pass it on,” Boxley said.
His family moved to North Kitsap, but Boxley travels to Alaska every summer. He is also a member of the 50-person Tsimhian dance group in Seattle.
“Every moment I think about the culture,” he said.