About Joseph Illig
For beyond 50 years Joseph Illig has lived and worked out on the beach at Eagle Cove, Friday Harbor, Washington. It is a fabulous inspiring place of windblown rocky coast, lovely serene protected bays and inlets. For ages it has provided inhabitants a rich abundance of essentials from intertidal gathering along with continuous visitations of orca whale pods. It is an environment conveying timeless, mythical beauty.
Workwise Joe's experiences include having worked with research biology teams in the Far North and having fished in coastal Alaskan and British Columbian waters for many summers. As a zoologist and artist, he considers knowledge of the region's flora and fauna very essential to an understanding of the region's visual art cultural traditions. Symbiosis is rooted here. For the past 25 years Northwest Coastal art has been one of his chief interests. Oriental studies have contributed toward an evolving understanding of the aesthetic roots of NW Tribal Art; a tangible link to our past.
Now an established designer, Joe has studied and worked with Smithsonian museum scholars, University of Washington anthropologists, and indigenous carvers and artists.
Conceptually, the artist's works contemplate the heart of traditional Northwest Coastal cultures. It is an inspiring archive of great mystery, strength, beauty and tremendous liveliness. It nourishes and suffuses all of illig's sculptural pieces. They are monuments in miniature infused with legendary beings dancing metamorphosing with layers of anatomical and mythological abstraction.
Illig works are personal statements, personal creations presenting a wonderful fusion of innovation with traditional design principles. It is based upon years of contemplation and enjoyment of our Northwest predecessors' art, language and cultures.
Joseph is extremely pleased that his life's work and livelihood are seen as that of a culture bearer. This stewardship contributes toward an expanding appreciation of one of humankind's most inspired and vitally interesting cultural heritages.
Along with individual acquisitions, his work is prominently exhibited with tribal, public and private institutions, nationally and internationally. All artwork is artist-signed, dated, and made entirely in North America.
For general and specific interpretation and discussion of evolution of NW Coastal art, see authors Bill Holm and Bill Reid, Rice University Press, 1975.