Crafted from memories, legends, and art, this powerful memoir tells the uplifting story of an Indigenous man’s struggle to reconnect with his culture and walk in the footsteps of his father and the generations of Kwakwa_ka_’wakw artists that came before him.
David Neel was an infant when his father, a traditional Kwakiutl artist, returned to the ancestors, triggering a series of events that would separate David from his homeland and its rich cultural traditions for twenty-five years. When the aspiring photographer saw a mask carved by an ancestor in a Texas museum, the encounter inspired him to return home and follow in his father’s footsteps. Drawing on memory, legend, and his own art, Neel recounts his struggle to reconnect with his culture and become an accomplished Kwakwa_ka_’wakw artist. His memoir is a testament to the strength of the human spirit to overcome great obstacles and to the power and endurance of Indigenous culture and art.
David A. Neel, carver, jeweller, painter, printmaker, writer, and photographer, comes from a family of traditional Kwakwa_ka_’wakw artists, including Dave Neel Sr., Ellen Neel, Mungo Martin, and Charlie James. In addition to apprenticing with carvers in Alert Bay, he received training in writing and photography from the University of Kansas and Mount Royal College in Alberta. He is the author of Our Chiefs and Elders: Words and Photographs of Native Leaders (1992) and The Great Canoes: Reviving a Northwest Coast Tradition (1995). He is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Kwakwa_ka_’wakw traditional art and culture.
"A spellbinding memoir with universal reach … beautifully told and illustrated … Neel's memoir is written with the same calm mastery he brings to all his art. This is a wise, eloquent, and deeply moving book." — 2020 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury (Helen Knott, Sandra Martin, and Ronald Wright)- Helen Knott, Sandra Martin, and Ronald Wright, Hillary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury
The Way Home is filled with portrait photography that conveys stories that cannot be told by words alone. In this image-filled memoir we are also invited into Neel’s creative journey through his descriptions and photos of his own carved masks and his precious metal jewelry. - Latash-Maurice Nahanee, BCBookLook
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