A member of the Kayaahl ‘Lanaas Eagle Clan of the Haida Nation, Jaalen Edenshaw has always been surrounded by Haida art. At a young age he started studying the discipline of Haida form-line design under his father Guujaaw’s guidance and later he carved with James Hart. He has also spent countless hours in museums studying the old masters. He owes his understanding of the art to these experiences.
Jaalen is known for his carving of monumental cedars. His 35 foot “Gyaluu” pole stands in Old Massett, the 43 foot “Two Brothers Pole” carved with his brother Gwaai stands in Jasper AB, and his 45 foot “Gwaai Haanas Legacy Pole”, in Hlk’ah GawGa. He is currently putting the finishing touches on a 33 foot Haida canoe.
Haida stories and language guide his work. He delves into the old Haida stories before he carves out the narrative. He and his brother co-founded K’alts’ida K’ah (Laughing Crow), a collective to tell Haida stories and promote Haida language through art. They wrote and produced, “Sinxii Ganguu”, dramatizing an old story performed in Haida. He collaborated on several Haida stop motion animations, the latest of which won best music video of 2015 at the ImagiNative film festival and co-wrote “SGaawaay K’uuna” (Edge of the Knife), the award-winning Haida feature film of 2018.
Although Jaalen has pieces in collections and museums around the world, he considers his most important works to be the ones that stay on Haida Gwaii. He feels a great debt to his homeland and has worked to highlight the environmental importance of land and sea and the Haida way of being.