Ses Saunders – Nuxalk Artist

Nuxalk artist Ses Saunders was born in 1998. While some children are said to be born with a silver spoon in their mouths, you might say Ses was born with a carving knife in his hand. Almost before he could walk he was at his dad’s side carving on a piece of wood while his father worked on his next mask.

Ses’s father Skip Saunders is a respected and accomplished Nuxalk carver. His grandfather Arthur “Silyas” Saunders, a former Native Artist Fellowship award recipient from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian was also a respected and accomplished Nuxalk carver. His great grandfather Joe Saunders was a legendary boat and canoe builder. Carving is in Ses’s blood.

While his dad and grandfather were self-taught carvers, Ses has had the great advantage of being tutored by his dad. A natural teacher, Skip Saunders has taught Ses the fundamental skills of carving and the elemental knowledge of Nuxalk and Northwest coast form line art. This combination of skill, knowledge, passion and a great natural talent has allowed Ses to excel in his craft at an early age and create works of art well beyond his years.

By the time Ses was 12 he was already selling his work directly to local customers. By 14 his work was selling in local Bella Coola galleries. In the short years since, his work has been purchased by customers from far and wide. His carvings have traveled to Germany, England, Spain, Scandinavia, Chile, Russia, Australia and the U.S. He has also received a number of commissions from collectors already confident enough to invest in his abilities.

In 2016 Ses received the prestigious YVR (Vancouver International Airport) Art Foundation Youth Artist Scholarship award. Of the seven award winners, Ses was the youngest by four years. In 2017 his Eagle/Bear panel went on display at the Vancouver International Airport. In that same year Ses approached renowned Haida artist Robert Davidson and was accepted as an apprentice by him. In 2018 Ses was awarded a second scholarship from the YVR Art Foundation. His new work went on display at the airport in June, 2019. Today Ses continues to grow his talent under the mentorship of Robert Davidson and to create works of art that are distinctively Nuxalk and uniquely his own.