Kootchie - aka Willard Charlie
Willard, or Kootchie as he is locally known, first began carving wood in high school after his wood work teacher Benny Paul held an art contest with 10 students.
Each of the students had a few months to carve a totem pole, and the teacher ended up giving everybody first prizes. Kootchie was one of two that continued on the art path out of those 10 students. Today, Kootchie focuses on wood carving and wood burning.
Kootchie believes in making statements with art pieces, based on what enters his imagination. Kootchie looks up to Lawrence Paul for the way his pieces make statements about the plight of First Nations people.
One of Kootchie’s most memorable moments as an artist was when his completed totem pole representing North America was shipped to Mexico to be displayed by a local church.
I get my ideas from my mind. I like to think about things, and make comedy pieces out of different situations.
Now that I have more time, I can take my time with pieces. I’d like to have my own studio; I need space to do my art.
When I first started carving and learning how to do stone sculptures, I didn’t know that you had to take measurements and do a model first. I didn’t do that, I just carved away. Later, I learned how to draw it out and make sure everything was even.
The one part of my culture I include in most of my pieces is my clan, the Frog clan. I always have a frog in my art. Everything else is contemporary or added on.
I use mostly soft woods for carving: yellow cedar, red cedar, alder and juniper. Lately I’ve been working on wood burning because I just invested in a wood burner.
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