Indian artist Ralph Bennett chisels the yellow cedar tree, forming
rough outlines of a bear and a medicine man's face.
"Every single person on this planet
comes from a tribal culture," Bennett said Tuesday to elementary
The Haida Indian loves sharing his culture
and encourages others to learn about their own cultures.
His carvings and paintings are on display
along with works by other artists through June 27 at the Snohomish
Arts Council's Indian art exhibit, "Yesterday & Today:
Bennett, of Woodinville, and Tlingit Indian
Fred Fulmer, of Juanita, are sharing stories and art with more than
2,200 school children for the next two weeks at the Everett Center
for the Arts.
During the tour, students visit with the
carvers, make prints on paper and view various artwork, including
totem poles, masks and paintings.
On Tuesday, students visiting the exhibit
were from Whittier and Hawthorne elementary schools.
Fourth-grader Elise Tuerk, a 10-year-old
who attends Hawthorne, said the exhibit inspired her.
"It's so cool to learn about your
heritage because there's so much to learn," she said.
Fourth-grader Jesse Sorensen, also of
Hawthorne, said it was great seeing real-life wood carvers and their
masks and totem poles.
"I've only seen these kind of carvings
in books," she said.
Bennett said sharing cultures and heritage
"If you know more about me, and I
know more about you, that's what a community is," he said.
Bennett is an award-winning artist whose
work has been on display in the San Francisco Palace of Fine Art
and the Seattle's Burke Museum.
When he was 4 years old, Bennett began
carving staves used for smoking salmon. He comes from a long line
of wood carvers who designed totem poles, canoes, paddles, masks,
headdresses and staffs.
Amelia Kent, a fifth-grader at Whittier,
said the exhibit is exciting.
"It's nice to see how they represent
their heritage," she said, adding that she knows a little about
her heritage, too. Her ancestors were from Scotland, Wales, Ireland
Seven of Amelia's classmates have ties
to American Indian tribes.
Amelia's teacher, Jocelyn Sievers, said
she believes the exhibit will spark some questions from her students.
"I hope it helps them want to ask
their parents about their own heritage," she said.