Steve Smith (Dla’kwagila) (1968) was born in Oweekeno Village in Campbell River, B.C. In 1987, Steve was introduced to both carving and painting by his late father, Kwakwaka’wakw artist Harris Smith (Lalkawilas). Their collaborative effort produced unique sculptures in basswood, yellow cedar and alder. Smith Steve has also worked with his brother, established Kwakwaka’wakw artist Rod Smith.
Steve introduces a very distinct style of carved works, utilizing traditional forms in a contemporary fashion. He works in a broad spectrum of works of art. His pieces include original paintings, sculptures, masks, limited edition prints, etched glass, totem poles, and drums. Every item he produces carries his marked and unique designs.
He has held multiple solo shows, participated in major exhibitions across the continent. (e.g. Museum of Arts and Design in New York and Burke Museum’s In the Spirit of Our Ancestors exhibition in Seattle), and has completed two monumental installations for the world-renowned YVR art collection in Vancouver, BC.
In early 2013, Steve underwent life-threatening heart surgery that profoundly affected his outlook on his art and his life. He was invigorated by the beauty and warmth that surrounded him, and decided to focus on capturing the moment, living in the now, and never taking anything for granted.
This emotional and spiritual challenge has resulted in a magnificent perspective on traditional and contemporary indigenous artwork. He plays with color and form in ways that allow him to powerfully bridge the gap between ancient tradition and modern art. Steve likes to experiment with positive and negative spaces in his composition. He believes both are inseparable and, together in the right balance, can create a sense of harmony.
He signs his works with his traditional name, Dla’kwagila, which means “Made to be Copper”.