Meet Wayne Price

The master carver shares his first year at UAS

By ALYSSA MADRID

Staff Writer, UAS WHALESONG

Tlingit master carver, Wayne Price, has wrapped up a successful first year as Associate Professor of Northwest Coast Arts at UAS.

“It’s a very good fit to be here on campus,” Price told the Whalesong in a short interview.

Price was hired to enhance and grow the UAS program as part of an agreement with Sealaska Heritage Institute and the Institute of American Indian Arts to make Juneau and Southeast Alaska world-renowned centers for Northwest Coasts Arts and indigenous artistic development. 

“To pass on all the years of knowledge onto some ambitious students that are ready and willing to learn and they’re really putting in the time to make it work,” Price said. “And it brings about a great level of success.”

This was his first year as a college professor, but he has been teaching art for more than 35 years and has carved even longer.

“I started doing Northwest Coast Native Art when I was 12 years old and I never stopped. I’ve had a wonderful career being involved with the arts. Thirty-eight totem poles, 11 dugout canoes, and counting, we’re still going,” Price said. 

During fall semester Price instructed Northwest Coast Design and Northwest Coast Carving. The carving class focused on paddle making and every student made a full-sized paddle. 

At a year-end potlatch for his students at Auke Recreation Area, north of Auke Bay, Price brought his personal dugout canoe for students to test and celebrate their paddle-making skills.

Spring semester Price taught a tool-making course and another on bentwood boxes. 

“It takes time to build a really nice foundation and students have put in a good couple of semesters now. They got their own tools now, they’re getting their feet under them,” Price said.

But it’s just the introduction, Price said. 

“The ancestors are really way ahead of us, there is no way that we could learn everything that is needed to learn about bentwood boxes in one semester,” he said. “I could do two more semesters on bentwood boxes and we would hardly be scratching the surface. The ancestors, they’ve left a legacy of taking a flat board and making a four-sided box, even to the level of being waterproof and being able to cook in it.”

Price’s goal is to build a dugout canoe on campus with student participation.

“Without the dugouts, it would probably be hard to say that there would even be a culture. That was the food, that was the potlatches, that was the travel, that was the communication, that was everything! All that was accomplished because of our ability to make dugouts,” he said. 

He called the dugout an art form that should be passed through history.

In fall 2019, Price will be teaching beginner, intermediate, and advanced Northwest Coast carving and design classes. 

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