Who was Bill Reid?

In his own words

Bill Reid
"The whole business of art is such a mysterious and magical thing"

I think the whole process of making art or whatever you call this thing is a technical one from the standpoint of the person doing it. The whole business of art is such a mysterious and magical thing because you really do just balance forms and if you’re a painter, colours against colours and shapes against shapes and work out a harmonious, pleasing or if you want, disturbing or whatever effect you’re aiming for. But once you got the idea working it out is a technical matter and yet somehow when it works well all these other layers of meaning come through and this communication that people talk about between artist and viewer. When you have great works, such as the finest from the Northwest Coast, you have this transmission of something - I don’t what it is because it has to occur on a non-verbal level so it’s pretty hard to describe – the transmission of feeling, of communication between people separated by any amount of time and space and culture. And yet this gap is bridged through this very magical medium. The mere fact of being able to produce a great, or it doesn’t have to great, a drawing that represents something to the person that does it and the person who views it is, I think, pure magic.

CBC Radio interview with Peter Gzowski, 1983. Segment from “Converging Haida and European Styles,” Courtesy Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC Archives.