Russell Smith (“Ye-Ku-tla-las” – to give all) was one of the Northwest Coast’s most respected native artists. He was of the Sea Bear Clan and his crest was Thunderbird and Grizzly Bear. His mother taught him to make button blankets and his cousin, Lloyd Wadhams, introduced Russell to silver work and precious metals. Russell Smith is a very fine singer and drummer in the Northwest Coast tradition.
Smith produces imaginative interpretations of the old Kwakwaka'wakw masks. He was particularly renowned for his innovative Komokwa masks, which are topped with creative interpretations of the sea anemone and various kinds of fish.
Smith’s carving career began as a child and was influenced by a variety of associations and experiences. In 1970, he worked with Bill Holm and others on a Gilford Island Longhouse for the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. He worked alongside Doug Cranmer and Larry Rosso on a heritage project for the Vancouver Museum’s Centennial celebration.
Russell Smith’s work has been collected at an international level. He participated in many important exhibitions and his work is represented in many important collections.