Published on August 19, 2014 by Amy
Raymond’s birth mother was Nisga’a and his birth father was Haida, but he was adopted by Haida artist Bill Reid and Bill’s wife at the time, Mabel Stevens. Raymond first worked with argillite after being enrolled in a children’s carving class run by Haida artist Rufus Moody, which was held in Skidegate in the early 1960s. Raymond’s talent was identified immediately and he became famous on Haida Gwaii for his incredibly fine crosshatching. He continued to work in argillite as a teenager, under the tutelage of his step-father, Billy Stevens. Billy was a logger, fisherman, and artist. During his time on Haida Gwaii as a young adult, Raymond continued to learn design, engraving, and carving from artists such as Rufus Moody, Robert Cross, and Nelson Cross (Raymond’s biological brother). Raymond moved to North Vancouver in the late 1960s to complete Grades 11 and 12, and he graduated from Carson Graham Secondary. In the early 1970s, Bill Reid had moved to Montreal for work with the CBC, and Raymond followed him shortly after graduating from highschool. It was during this time in Montreal that Raymond learned metalwork and engraving techniques from Bill Reid, and he sold to many galleries in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. Despite his close connection to British Columbia and Haida Gwaii, many of Raymond’s works can be found in collections around the world because they were often purchased and given by officials and bureaucrats working in and around Ottawa. There are pieces by Raymond in Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology, and he also had a piece included in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s 2006 exhibition ‘Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art’. Most of his pieces were signed ‘Raymond Stevens’ but he occasionally signed pieces ‘Raymond Reid’, ‘Raymond Cross’, or simply ‘Raymond’. In addition, he frequently carved small scenes or geometric designs into the backs of his bracelets.
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