Floyd Joseph (Tyee)
“The creator has given us many good things: the universe, the sky, the mountains, the valleys, rivers, inlets and oceans. These are the origins of our totems. For as long as I can remember the elders would take me aside and speak to me of my people and where we come from. In my work I attempt to illustrate a visual understanding of these stories and to interpret our peoples’ legends in my own style.”
Coast Salish artist Floyd Joseph is an elder and Hereditary Chief of the Squamish Band on the West Coast of British Columbia, and goes by the name “Tyee,” an ancestral name carried down through his family for generations that was given to him at a Potlatch in 1975. He was born in 1953 at Homulticison (Capilano), BC, on the North Shore of the Burrard Inlet. His father, Larry Joseph, was a carver, and Floyd was immersed in Salish art from a very early age. His mother, Marjorie Rose Thom, was originally from the Nanaimo Band.
After graduating in art from Carson Graham High School in North Vancouver, Joseph attended Capilano College, majoring in art, sculpture, pottery, drawing and design. During this period he also visited Paris, Amsterdam and London to explore museums, the art and the peoples. Since then, Joseph has gained international recognition. In 1990 he was awarded a Canada Council Grant in Fine Arts and went on to produce a major exhibition at the Marion Scott Gallery of Vancouver. Traditional full-scale house posts, poles, welcoming figures, carved and painted bowls, masks and sculptures reflect his heritage and knowledge of who he is and where he comes from. Welcoming figures like the one on UVic’s campus, when raised in front of one’s dwelling, served to protect the land and the inhabitants, welcome those who came to visit and honour one’s spiritual beliefs and achievements. Today, Joseph lives with his family in Brentwood Bay, where he continues to work as a master carver, painter and silversmith.