Kwakwaka’wakw carver Wayne Alfred was born in 1958 into the 'Namgis First Nation, near the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island. His family are artistically, culturally and politically active within his First Peoples' Nation.
Wayne’s very refined and and meticulous carving and painting work reflects influences from such historic artists as Arthur Shaughnessy, Mungo Martin and Willy Seaweed, combined with his own sense of Kwakwaka’wakw tradition. His deep understanding of the dramatic considerations of making masks and ceremonial pieces is reflected in his highly collectible works.
Wayne began carving at a very young age and received a great deal of support and encouragement from his elders to pursue his artwork on a full-time basis. He is respected singer and a Head Hamatsa dancer, or leader of the initiation process into this high status and secret society within the community. Wayne’s historical knowledge and familiarity with traditional practices and oral traditions set him apart as a community leader and establishes him as an influential figure to emerging artists.
In the 1980’s Beau Dick and Wayne completed a thirty-foot totem pole that stands in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 1998 Wayne helped rebuild the ‘Big House’ in Alert Bay, the central congregational community structure destroyed in a fire in 1997.
His background and his artwork have been documented in many books focusing on the combination of traditional and contemporary themes, and his art has been showcased worldwide in important exhibitions and catalogs Northwest Coast art. In 2012, he was awarded British Columbia’s Creative Achievement Award for First Nations’ Art.