After moving to Tofino, BC, Canada, Christen Dokk Smith benefited from the knowledge of local Tla-o-qui-aht master carvers, Joe David and Levi Martin. It was Levi Martin who taught him to sit in quiet contemplation with the wood, and to listen to it speak. His cross-cultural explorations have included a Nuu-chah-nutlh ancestor mask embellished with elements of Viking carving (featured in Salt Magazine, Oct. 6, 2016) and a low-relief carving in Christen’s contemporary Viking style emblazoned on sculpture shaped like a traditional dugout canoe. With his deep new connection with the wood, Christen began working exclusively with salvaged wood. This included participating in the oneTree Project, as one of 46 artisans selected to carve pieces of an old-growth Bigleaf Maple from the Cowichan Valley, which had to be taken down due to safety reasons. His sculpture, “A Boy in Wonderment of the World” as he discovers a tree, was part of the oneTree exhibition (2015) at the Robert Bateman Centre in Victoria, BC. His local west coast commission work has ranged from the commercial for popular eatery Wolf in the Fog (from wolf’s head bar taps to a mixed media forest scene for the patio) to an interpretation in Yellow Cedar of the Stone Age Olmec colossal head for the sculpture park at Tofino Botanical Gardens. Since moving to Canada’s west coast, Christen has been an active participant in Tofino’s Carving on the Edge Festival where he has also provided workshops and talks on Viking carving as well as tool sharpening demos.

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