(1970 – Present, Coast Salish)
Coast Salish artist Tom Eneas was born in Penticton, British Columbia in 1970, but later relocated to Vancouver where he continues to live and work. His mother, Verna Baker, inspired Tom to explore his Native heritage through the close study of traditional art and culture. At the age of twenty-one, Tom began studying the techniques used to create the traditional forms and lines of Northwest Coast art, as well as the symbolism behind the forms. After three years of dedicated study, Tom’s carved his first two-dimensional piece and his first mask, which was later used in a ceremonial dance. He apprenticed with celebrated Kwakwaka’wakw artist Kevin Cranmer, who helped Tom refine his skills and develop a broader understanding of traditional art forms.
Tom has since been honored with several important commissions, including the redesign of the Esquimalt Longhouse in 1995 and a collaborative effort with fellow First Nations artists to carve a totem pole for the Vancouver Technical School. In 1998, Tom was chosen to be the artist in residence at the Vancouver Art Gallery. His work is characterized by a revival of Salish visual culture and an acute awareness of the role of art in the revival and regeneration of traditional Salish culture.