Born in 1991, Cole Speck was raised on the ‘Namgis reserve on the island of Alert Bay and has been carving since he was a teenager. Cole comes from a strong cultural and artistic heritage, which is evident in his carving. He is the great grandson of late Chief John Speck of the Tlowitsis, who was the father of the late Henry Speck Sr.
Cole’s work has immense reverence for old traditions, while pushing into contemporary realms. As a young carver, Cole apprenticed under accomplished master carvers Beau Dick and Wayne Alfred and since then, he has been consistently making his mark on the Northwest Coast art scene. Cole has assisted in the making of the Pat Alfred Memorial pole with Beau Dick and in the carving of a pole for a Northwest Coast exhibition in Holland with Rande Cook.
In 2017, Cole performed for the opening of documenta 14 in Athens, Greece where he contextualized Beau Dick’s works in the exhibition through a re-telling of the Undersea Kingdom story. In July of 2017, he participated in the exhibition in Kassel, Germany as Beau Dick’s apprentice. Cole’s work has also been exhibited at NADA Art Fair in New York and at Santander Cultural in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2018.
Cole was selected by the independent jury as the 2020 Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist.
The Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist designation was established in 2019. Named in honour of Brenda Crabtree, Director, Aboriginal Programs, Emily Carr University and the late Bill McLennan (1948-2020), Curator Emeritus, UBC Museum of Anthropology, this recognition aims to highlight and support emerging talent.