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No other contemporary Northwest Coast artist has received the critical
acclaim accorded Bill Reid. Reid's reputation as an artist derives in part from the pivotal role he has played in the rebirth of northern art, Haida art in
particular. In 1948, when Reid decided to emulate his grandfather, Charles Gladstone, and become a silversmith and goldsmith, he did so not only by training
as a jeweler but by studying old pieces stored in museums. As an expert jeweler he introduced complex traditional European jewelry techniques (e.g.repousse)
to the manufacture to North west Coast metalwork. In fact, no other Northwest Coast Artist who works in precious metals has the range of techniques that Reid
commands. In analyzing museum specimens, Reid along with Bill Holm, has been largely responsible for the modern understanding of the principles of Northern
two-dimensional design. Thus Reid was the first Northern artist born in the twentieth century to comprehend the formal rules of this complex intellectualized
art tradition, the principles of which had been lost to the few remaining Haida artists who practiced their craft in argillite and silver. Not only has Reid
shared his understanding of Haida art with the public through the written word,film ,and his work in wood, silver, gold and other more or less exotic
materials, he has also passed on his skills to younger artist. While it can be argued that Reid's stature as an artist must await a critical judgment of his
work, something that has not yet been done, without question he is the bridge between the likes of Charles Edensaw and Robert Davidson . In this role, as
connector, link, an active intelligence that has revived and carried on a remarkable art tradition, Bill Reid's greatness is secure.
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