Search

A concrete cantilevered building against blue sky and green landscaping

A large green wall with oil paintings in gold frames above a tiled floor

A museum interior space with paintings and concrete walls and stairs

A concrete-walled lobby with windows, a tiled floor, and a circular desk

The top of a concrete spiral staircase with a wooden railing

A tall tree is the focal point of a garden in between two concrete buildings

About arrow_back

Admission for everyone is always free! Check here for current hours and more.

A concrete cantilevered building against blue sky and green landscaping

Collections arrow_back

The Johnson Museum holds more than 40,000 works in its collection from around the world.

A large green wall with oil paintings in gold frames above a tiled floor

Exhibitions arrow_back

Check out what’s on view this season at the Museum and look back through our history.

A museum interior space with paintings and concrete walls and stairs

Events arrow_back

Free events for everyone, plus special programs for students, families, and more!

A concrete-walled lobby with windows, a tiled floor, and a circular desk

Learn arrow_back

The Johnson Museum actively contributes to the intellectual life of our campus and community.

The top of a concrete spiral staircase with a wooden railing

Support arrow_back

Help the Johnson Museum continue its legacy by making a gift today.

A tall tree is the focal point of a garden in between two concrete buildings

1 of 231

Gene Brabant

(Cree, born Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 1946)

Kwakwaka’wakw Sun Mask

View All Works

Object Details

Artist

Gene Brabant

Date

20th century

Medium

Painted and carved wood, inlaid with copper

Dimensions

Height: 13 inches (33 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Noyes Huston, Class of 1932, and Margaret Huston

Object
Number

74.022.006

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis Sun mask, made by artist Gene Brabant, has a bird-like face surrounded by styl(…)

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis Sun mask, made by artist Gene Brabant, has a bird-like face surrounded by stylized sun rays made of copper.WHERE WAS IT MADE?This mask was made in British Columbia, Canada.WHO WAS THE ARTIST?Gene Brabant was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 1946. Watching Native artists Mungo Martin and Henry Hunt at work on the Thunderbird Park restoration project at the Royal Museum of British Columbia inspired Brabant to become a traditional carver at a young age. He replicates the carving styles and motifs of a few different indigenous North West Coast groups, including the Kwakwaka’wakw.HOW WAS IT MADE?This mask was carved from wood, likely with hand tools, and painted.HOW WAS IT USED?Traditionally, Kwakwaka’wakw masks are worn during dance ceremonies that take place during the potlatch. Potlatch celebrations used to fill three to four days. Now, most celebrations take place in one day. The potlatch is an opportunity for communities to come together to celebrate weddings, commemorate the recently deceased, honor their leaders, and exchange gifts. The family that hosts the potlatch gives away numerous gifts, as a demonstration of their wealth and in the spirit of sharing this wealth with others.WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?The Kwakwaka’wakw believe that the first people were created when various supernatural beings (including the Sun, Seagull, Grizzly Bear, and Thunderbird) took off their masks and became human. Each Kwakwaka’wakw group descends from one of these different creator/ancestors.This is a traditional Kwakwaka’wakw sun mask with embellished rays. In traditional Kwakwaka’wakw masks, such as this one, animal and human forms are often quite realistic, in part due to the three-dimensional effects achieved through deeply cut carving, which you can see exemplified in this mask. Attachments, such as fins, beaks and wings are another characteristic of their style, which leans towards as much true representation of the subject as possible.

Create an account

Please take a moment to fill your information to create your account.

Reset Password

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive mail with link to set new password.

Save Artwork

Save the artwork in any of your exhibitions or create a new one.

You have not made any exhibitions.

Create New Exhibition

Create New Exhibition