Bill Reid is responsible for single-handedly resurrecting and bringing to the attention of the world the art and culture of the North West Coast Native People of North America, and of the Haida Nation in particular. While remaining completely faithful to its roots, Reid's art is deeply infused with the personality of its creator. This is what makes his sculptures so easily recognizable and, above all, worthy of a place on the world stage.
Bill Reid’s art is displayed in public and private collections around the world including the Smithsonian in Washington; D.C., Museum of Man; Ottawa, and the Natural Gallery of Canada in Hull, Quebec. Five Canadian Universities have conferred honorary doctoral degrees on him, and the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology has created a separate wing specially for their permanent collection of his work. His most recognized sculpture, “The Spirit of the Haida Gwaii”, was produced twice and stands at both the Vancouver International Airport and the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. This piece also set the Canadian record for the highest price paid for a work by a living artist. Bill Reid has been recognized countless times for his outstanding contributions to the artistic community both in Canada and abroad. In 1986 he received the Bronfman Award for Excellence in Crafts and became an officer of the Order of Canada. His work is featured on the Canadian postage stamps and has been honoured on the Canadian twenty dollar bill.
Reid works in a variety of mediums including gold, silver, argillite, bronze, cedar, and ink. His work is defined by an adherence to traditional Haida methods and designs, and exacting attention to detail and craft. This respect for his roots, combined with his unique artistic vision and impressive technical skill, brought Reid immediate recognition, in Canada and beyond. His work often contains traditional first nations symbols, and many pieces reflect well-established mythological narratives in a contemporary context. He is credited with rediscovering the vocabulary of Haida art, and of passing it on to future generations of artists. His large public sculptures are immediately recognizable and have become symbolic, not only of Haida Gwaii art and tradition, but of Canada as a whole.