Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

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Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
Born1954 (age 64–65)
Known forPainting, sculpture, carving
Notable work
Coppers from the Hood
Pedal to the Meddle
MovementIndigenous art, Haida manga

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is a visual contemporary artist, author and speaker. His work has been seen in public spaces, museums, galleries and private collections across globe. Institutional collections include the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum and Vancouver Art Gallery.

Early life[edit]

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas was born in 1954 in Masset, Haida Gwaii. He is a descendant of the influential artists, Isabella Edenshaw, Charles Edenshaw. Yahgulanaas was a prolific young artist who soon covered the walls and ceilings of his bedroom with drawings. When those spaces were filled he found the fingernails of schoolmates to be an interesting platte for intricate multicoloured paintings. His artistic passion was curtailed somewhat in the decades that he in elected and volunteer public work including the creation of an multicultural community endowment, the Gwaii Trust.

Art career[edit]

Yahgulanaas's work has been seen in public spaces, museums, galleries, and private collections across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. His visual practice encompasses a variety of different art forms including: large-scale public art projects, mixed media sculptures and canvases, re-purposed automobile parts, acrylics, watercolours, ink drawings, and illustrated publications. Exploring themes of identity, environmentalism, and the human condition he uses art to communicate a world view that while particular to Haida Gwaii, his ancestral North Pacific archipelago, is also relevant to a contemporary and internationally engaged audience.

The original five–meter long mural that was published in 2009 as RED: A Haida manga is on a multi-year exhibit tour. Another book, Hachidori has sold over 100,000 copies in Japan with a single-day record sale of 20,000 copies. Flight of the Hummingbird, first published in North America and now available in five languages, is also a bestseller and includes essays contributed by the Dalai Lama and Nobel Peace prize winner Wangari Maathai. Declaration of Interdependence by Dr David Suzuki was illustrated by Yahgulanaas.[1][2]

Yahgulanaas's works in metal include commissions from the British Museum (2010), The City of Vancouver (2011) and the 2010 Winter Olympics organizing committee. In 2015, his sculpture of a sei whale was unveiled at the Vancouver International Airport.[3] In January 2016, his sculpture Yelthadaas from the Coppers From the Hood series joined the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.[4]. This work was put up on display in 2017. The piece hangs in Gallery 399, between the Modern and Contemporary Art wing and the Rockefeller Wing, where contemporary art borders Indigenous art.

Since 2009, Yahgulanaas has been a member of the board of the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

Haida manga[edit]

Although Yahgulanaas trained under master carvers, his brief exposure to Chinese brush techniques with Cai Ben Kwan encouraged a departure from the typical expressions of the Haida art form and the development of a new genre of narrative art called "Haida manga."[5]

Haida Manga blends North Pacific Indigenous iconographies and framelines with the graphic dynamism of Asian manga. Haida Manga is committed to hybridity as a positive force that opens a third space for critical engagement. It offers an empowering and playful way of viewing and engaging with social issues as it seeks participation, dialogue, reflection, and action.

Published works[edit]


  • War of the Blink (2017)
  • The Seriousness of Play, Nicola Levell (2016)
  • Old Growth: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Liz Park, ed. ISBN 978-1897476963 (2012)
  • The Canoe He Called Loo Taas— illustrations (2010)
  • The Little Hummingbird (2010)
  • The Declaration of Interdependence— illustrations (2010)
  • The Canoe He Called Loo Taas, ISBN 9780978255367, (2010)
  • Red: A Haida Manga, ISBN 978-1-55365-353-0, (2009)
  • RED, A Haida Manga (2009)
  • Flight of the Hummingbird (2008)
  • Hachidori (2005)
  • A Lousy Tale (2004)
  • The Last Voyage of the Black Ship (2001)
  • A Tale of Two Shamans (2001)


External links[edit]