Cultural Affiliation: Tsimshian
Clifton Guthrie is a Tsimshian artist of the Laxskiik clan from Metlakatla, Alaska. He was born in 1987 and raised in Metlakatla, Clifton moved to Seattle after he completed high school in 2006.
Clifton’s passion for Tsimshian culture and art was ingrained in him from childhood; listening to his great grandfather’s stories, attending potlatches and participating in raising totem poles were all a regular part of his youth. In 2014 Clifton was given his Tsimshian name Holtka Xsoo, which means “Full Canoe”, due to always being busy working on something.
In high school, he began studying under Tsimshian carver Jack Hudson. When he attended college, he continued carving, painting, and glass etching.
In 2011, Clifton was invited to apprentice under renowned Tsimshian carver and culture bearer David A. Boxley. He began deeply studying the art of design and making masks, bentwood boxes, drums, totem poles, and other wood work. Clifton continues to explore and share his design, carving, and cultural knowledge under the watchful eye of David A Boxley, while working alongside David R Boxley, a celebrated artist in his own right.
Since 2011, Clifton has had the opportunity to assist David Boxley on carving Totem poles, and other large projects including the House front installed for Sealaska. Clifton has also started carving his own path, with many of his carvings selected for gallery and museum shows including Museum of Anthropology’s “Claiming Space” Exhibit, Evergreen State Longhouse 20th Anniversary show, Burke Museum permanent collection, and won the Best of Formline award in Sealaska’s 2020 Juried Art Show.
Clifton worked in Seattle as a full time carpenter for 10 years while still continuing to advance his cultural knowledge, and produce Tsimshian art in various art forms. In 2018 Clifton decided to put his tool bags down and move back home to Metlakatla, Alaska; to focus on family, culture, and carving full time.