(Color: Black or diverse shades of gray / hardness 3-7 / Occurrence: Haida Gwaii BC Canada)
The Haida Nation is renowned for its beautiful "black slate" or argillite carvings. The Haida began carving argillite in response to the early curio trade of the 1820's, amongst British explorers and settlers. Soon the artistic accomplishments of the Haida in the use of materials such as wood, horn, and stone included this new medium. While argillite used to be known as a form of tourist art, it has grown to become one of the most sought after art forms in North American First Nations art. Even today, argillite continues to be carved exclusively by Haida artists both on Haida Gwaii and in the Vancouver and Victoria areas.
Chris Russ was born August 9th 1956 to Haida parents. His mother’s name is June and his father is the Hereditary Chief of Old Masset Reynold Russ. The Kincolth Nishga people adopted his grandmother. His clan crests are Wolf, Eagle and Killer whale. Chris started carving in 1975 and is an accomplished argillite sculpture. He has sold his work all around the world to private collectors. In May 2005 he had one of his argillite sculptures in an argillite show at Masters Gallery in Calgary Alberta. He has learned from all the other argillite carvers and he has other family members who also carve the black slate called argillite. Many of his family members are also weavers.