David Boxley is a Tsimshian carver from Metlakatla, Alaska. Born in 1952, he was raised by his grandparents. From them he learned many Tsimshian traditions including the language. After high school he attended Seattle Pacific University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. He became a teacher and basketball coach to Junior and Senior high students in Alaska and Washington.
While teaching in Metlakatla in 1979 he began devoting considerable time to the study of traditional Tsimshian carving. Through researching ethnographic material and carvings from museum collections, Boxley has learned the traditional carving methods of his grandfather’s people.
In 1986 he made a major career decision to leave the security of teaching and to devote all of his energies toward carving and researching the legacy of Northwest Coast Indian art. David Boxley has become a nationally recognized Indian artist showing and demonstrating his art in many parts of the United States and Europe.
Boxley’s functional and decorative pieces such as bentwood boxes, rattles, masks, prints and panels are in collections of the King and Queen of Sweden, the Emperor of Japan, the President of West Germany, the Mayor of Chongging (China), Microsoft, Walt Disney World, Knott’s Berry Farm and numerous other private collectors of fine Northwest Coast art.
David Boxley is the first Alaskan Tsimshian to achieve national prominence; he is particularly well respected as a totem pole carver, having carved 65 poles in the last 26 years. He has taught and demonstrated at the following museums and institutes: Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.; Museum of History & Industry; Seattle, WA; Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; Sheldon Jackson College, Sitka, Alaska; Sitka Fine Arts Camp, Sitka, AK; Totem Heritage Center, Ketchikan, AK; Cornish Art Institute, Seattle WA; Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Glasgow Arts Center, Glasgow, Scotland; Festival of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii; Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, Canada; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland; Epcot Center, Disney World, Florida; the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage Alaska; Yakutat and Hoonah Community Schools, Alaska; and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.
In all of David Boxley’ s works of art, from totem poles, box drums to prints, he emphasizes Tsimshian style. In the recent resurgence of Native American cultural traditions, artists have become the culture bearers for their tribes. Boxley accepts this responsibility not only in his carving accomplishments, but by bringing the traditions he has learned in his path to being a carver back to his home village.