Belonging to the Eagle Moiety of the Kaagwaantaan Clan, Tommy Joseph works primarily with wood, producing objects such as totem poles, warrior helmets, and bentwood boxes. Informed by the traditional art of the Tlingit peoples, he utilizes simple hand tools and time-honored methods of woodworking. However, Joseph works fully in the present, telling stories about those around him through the language of Tlingit iconography.
Joseph collaborated with FWM to produce My Ancestors, a men’s suit, cut to his measurements and made of custom-designed fabric, creating a modern, wearable representation of Tlingit totemic motifs. The resulting exhibition featured Joseph’s Eagle and Wolf sketches, which provided the basis for the repeat pattern of the fabric, as well as an array of wood helmets he carved and painted in the fashion of ancient Tlingit warrior armor. During that same period, Joseph collaborated with the FWM Studio to create the design for this striking Eagle Wolf scarf, also featuring Tlingit totemic motifs.
More recently, Joseph’s work was featured in Echoes and Reverberations, a 2019-2020 group exhibition featuring works by five former FWM Artists-in-Residence who chose to amplify aspects of their Native American heritage such that they resonate in our current lives.