June 29, 2008

Eric Schweig, mask carver

'Watch out for the cars'

Carving, art yields expressionEric Schweig, Inuk, isn't shy. He's not afraid to share his opinion. His ability to not block that expression is shown with his skill of carving.

Carving was a gift he acquired at an early age. It started as a love that was nurtured into adulthood.

Schweig studied traditional Pacific Coast carvings before refining this scope toward the traditional masks of his ancestors, the Inuit. He hand-carves the masks from the red cedar of Vancouver, British Columbia.
The meaning of the article's obscure title:"[T]he education system ... is more interested in getting kids in line, pay attention to the rules, watching the stoplights instead of the cars. If I had kids ... I'd want them to watch out for the cars, not the stoplights, because stoplights fail, but your eyes don't."

In addition to being an artist, he's an actor, musician, and a volunteer representative and motivational speaker for street outreach. He appears throughout North America speaking to indigenous, American Indian and First Nations youth about suicide prevention, alcohol abuse and adoption, among other things.
Comment:  I imagine it's tough for Native actors--everyone except Adam Beach, that is--to make a living from acting. I wonder if Eric Schweig considers himself more of a carver who acts than an actor who carves.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.


Anonymous said...

Even though Eric Schweig enjoys acting, I don't think it would really rock his boat THAT much if he couldn't get an acting job (which I doubt could ever happen since he is one of the most famous Indian actors there is, and the best i might add hehe). He would simply go out and MAKE his OWN stuff. The issue is though, and I agree, they need to stop putting the Indians in leathers and feathers. Enough. They need to "update" the Indians in the world, if you get what I mean. Even Eric himself said enough with the buckskins outfits. It is a clear reflection on how the Indian ACTUALLY is in today's society. Stereotyped, left out and neglected. It really pisses me off and I am not even Indian.
Eric Schweig has gone through a lot in his life and I wish him guidance. A way he battles his past is by preventing it from happening to other Indians and I SO respect him for his work in the area of helping "inner city" youth. His artwork however is something he really needed to do in order to ground himself as an indian and it is really paying off in so many ways.

Candice said...

What to say about Eric Schweig?? I admire him greatly - for his work as an actor (have you ever seen his intense eyes??),
his beautiful mask carvings
(which seem to speak to the observer), and his opinions on social situations (he has a great sense of humor plus plenty of compassion). He has worked hard on himself, coming from a backgroud of abuse - I have such respect for how much he has achieved in his life!
You keep us on our toes Eric, with your comments on your MySpace page -
personally, you have educated me on many subjects. Eric will never know how far his reach is in society! Keep teaching us Eric!!

miigwech, Candice

CD said...

I admire his work with at risk youth in Canada. There are many good people that gals worked with him there, some who have crossed over, but he still keeps going!