In a career he describes as both “passionate and compulsive” Barry Herem's work as a Formline Artist owes its inspiration to the unique design “system” developed by the Native peoples of the ancient Northwest Coast of North America, as well as to the many artists and scholars who have taken up this art in modern times.
This style of art has many names, most formally it is referred to as Northwest Coast Indian Art (in Canada "Westcoast Art") and also Formline Art, or sometimes simply "Flat Design". Each of these terms signify a learned and disciplined use of expressive graphic conventions which usually depict uniquely stylized animal and human forms in both two-dimensional and sculptural images, all based on a coherent intellectual “system” of ordered curvilinear space (positive/ negative forms) impossible to accurately describe but which can be immediately recognized in a work as singular as a traditionally carved wooden chest from the 19th century:
Herem was an early student of this art in its modern revival, having met American, non-Native scholar and artist Bill Holm in 1965, the same year as Holm's publication of the most authorative and influential treatis ever written on the subject, a true classic: Northwest Coast Indian Art, an analysis of form." He took up the form almost immediately and with “equal parts assimilation and invention” Herem has focused on renewing and extending this art towards both the creation of true contemporary, as well as traditional work. He has done this through a learned re-application of “the rules” in many "new" materials including bronze, cast-paper, glass, steel, aluminum plate, silver, fabric, wood and serigraph print form. He is particularly noted for instigating innovative use of some of these materials and is recognized for influencing many practitioners with fresh creations while retaining and expressing the essential principles of "the art".
As such he was the first to use cast paper (1984), one of the first to utilize bronze (1973), and his pioneering use of enameled aluminum plate, stainless steel and cor-ten steel dates from 1982. He has also been among the first to parlay classic Formline structure (the design system) into true abstraction (see website essay What Is This Art?/What This Art Is, [under development]).
Apart from training in bronze casting and steel welding at Pratt Institute in Seattle, Washington his training in design has all come from intermittent, long term association with several of the leading Northwest Coast style artists and scholars of his time: Bill Holm, George MacDonald, Bill Reid, Duane Pasco, Joe David, Robert Davidson, Beau Dick et al., in addition to studied observation of historic and contemporary work from museum and private collections, art galleries and varied publications.
Herem has also been strongly influenced by a period of intense ethnographic field work among the native people of Southeastern Alaska in a study funded by Sealaska Corporation of Juneau, Alaska. This resulted in a published 850-page landmark study both edited and written by Herem in 1974: Historic Site Survey of Southeast Alaskan Grave and Village Sites (see biographical details).
In addition to his art work Herem is also noted as a lively lecturer, writer, poet, photographer and adventurer who has a long history of extended and ongoing canoe travel among the fjords and inlets of Britis Columbia and Southeastern Alaska.
Barry Herem was born in Michigan in 1941, raised in Portland, Oregon and lived in Seattle, Washington from 1964 to 2007. He has attended Portland State University, Brigham Young University, the University of Washington, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He received his B.A. in 1963 and currently lives in Everett, Wa., from 2007.
HIGHLIGHTS OF WORK AND WORKS IN PROGRESS 1979-2014
Herem is currently developing several new steel and aluminum “stela”, or plinth forms, designed to work as fully realized small sculptures, and\or as maquettes for larger works. One-man shows of his work have been held at the Stonington Gallery in Seattle, Wa., beginning in 1979 to the present.
The artist frequently produces new jewelry designs for Metal Arts Group in Portland, Oregon, ten of these in 2009, more now under production and he is regularly involved in the production of new prints and cards through the management of Taku Graphics of Juneau, Alaska.
- 2013 - large steel signature sculpture for the town of Arlington, WA.
- 2011 - a grouping of seven salmon installed at fish hatchery facility near Seattle through King County Arts.
- 2009 - installed 9-foot etched glass panel for private home.
- 2007 - installed three new works for the Forensics Lab of the State Patrol in Vancouver, Wa., a new glass work entitled Open Window: Looking Glass, a Thunderbird figure in steel and a large free-standing Raven in steel, auspices of the Washington State Arts Commission.
- 2006 - Fin Form, a stylized 8-foot high steel orca fin, private commission.
- 2005 - created his first of several glass works, Raven Tondo, 2 foot diameter cast glass with pedestal.
- 2003 - completion of 16 two x four foot etched glass panels for the Seven Cedars Casino in Sequim, Washington.
- 2002 - Set of six-foot steel gates for private home, Victoria, Canada
- 2000 - 20-foot kinetic wind vane entitled "Wind Eagle" at Klahowya Secondary school in Silverdale near Seattle, Washington, auspices of the Washington State Arts Commission, it consists of an eight foot stylized eagle standing on wing tip over a thirteen-foot tripod pedestal. Constructed of eight 1/4 inch plates of powder-coated aluminum with stainless steel "feathering," it turns actively in the wind.
- Since 1998 Herem has produced many original works in steel, paper and aluminum for the Washington State Ferry system, including a 16-foot curvilinear row of salmon in anodized aluminum plate entitled Formline Home Run.
- 1998 - from the artist's work as a photographer he designed a large-format photographic display of a rare and monumental collection of Tlingit house posts (known as the Whale House artifacts) for the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa-Hull, Canada.
- 1998 - installed "All Souls", 24 bronze masks created as a group (based on carved wooden originals) descriptive of the Haida story of Master Gambler and his manipulation of the entry of human souls into the world. Private commission.
- In 1997 Herem worked with the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa-Hull, Quebec in the development of commercial products (lamps, stencils, furniture) based on that museum's major collection of historic Canadian art.
- 1990 - for Alaska Airlines at Sea-Tac International Airport, Northern Light, a 42-foot wall sculpture in colored and clear one-inch diameter acrylic rod.
- 1990 - private commission, "Lady Raven", a 13-foot, free-standing animistic sculpture constructed of heavy gauge anodized aluminum plate, hammered copper with patina, and bronze
- Beginning in 1985 Herem has produced many works in cast paper, notably a set of four deep-relief panels from the sides of a carved chest.
- 1984 for Alaska Airlines, Portland International Airport, Portland, Oregon two 30-foot walls of enamelled aluminum plate entitled Route of the Whales.
- 1979 "Denominations", a five-piece bronze and cedar sculpture, six feel high, in five parts symbolizing commerce. Located in Gateway Tower, Seattle, WA.
SELECTED EXHIBITS AND CLIENTS
Gallery and museum exhibitions have been continuous in one or more American and Canadian cities since 1974, as well as in Berlin, Germany in 1984. These include shows in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, BC, Portland, Seattle, and Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka, Alaska.
Herem's work has also been comissioned by the Washington State Arts Commission, King County Arts and can be found in the permanent collections of the Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle; The Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottwa/Hull, Quebec, Canada; the Museum of Wildlife Art, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Museum of Northwest Art, LaConner, Washington and in the Ubersee-Museum Bremen, Germany. In print format his work has also appeared in the Seattle Art Museum, The Smithsonian Institution, the Alaska State Museum and in innumerable other public institutions and art venues throughout North America and beyond.
- Continuous exhibits at the Stonington Gallery in Seattle, Wa. including seven consecutive one man shows since 2007.
- Northwest Annual, Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, Washington, 1992
- Solo show, Objects of Bright Pride Gallery, New York City, May 1992
- Solo show, Bailey Nelson Gallery, Seattle, May, 1991
- Solo show and masked dance performance by the artist, Stonington Gallery, Seattle, 1989
- Solo show, three months, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History,1987-88
- Works used prominently in television film, "The Last Innocent Man" 1987
- Solo show, Gallerie Akmak, West Berlin, Germany,1984
- The American Museum of Natural History (New York), the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago), Smithsonian Institution (Washington D.C.) and the Royal Provincial Museum of British Columbia (Victoria, BC) have all featured or purchased serigraph works or cards by Herem.
- Corporate clients include Microsoft, AT&T, Boeing Company, Honeywell, McDonald's, Quadrant Corporation, Rainier Bank, Key Bank, King County libraries, Swedish Hospital, Seattle, Washington State Ferries, US Navy and Lynden Corporation.
- For Alaska Airlines Herem designed posters and prints, uniforms, towels, belt buckles and corporate announcements. In 1980 the artist was featured during a month-long show of these and other larger works in San Francisco. In connection with this show, extensive interviews were given on local TV and radio including a discussion about Northwest Coast-style art conducted and broadcast over National Public Radio.
BOOKS AND PERIODICALS
- Use of and significant mention about the artist's work in Northwest Coast and Northwest Coast Style Art, 1995, by Averill and Morris, University of Washington Press.
- Work featured in Southwest Art magazine, Aug. 1991
- Noted in book, Art in Seattle's Public Places, by James Rupp, photographs by Mary Randlett, University of Washington Press, 1991.
- Barry Herem was also featured in an extensive interview/biography in the Seattle Times, April, 1989, and in the New York Times, March 24, 1985. Further art reference and /or interviews have appeared in Sculpture Magazine, 1990, Northwest Magazine, February, 1988, Seattle Times, January 1, 1988; Portland Oregonian, 1987; San Francisco Chronicle, 1983; and in the airline magazine Air Cal, November, 1984 and Alaska Fest, December, 1978, January, 1979.
- Two of Herem's serigraphs were featured in the large-format book Northwest Coast Indian Graphics by Blackman and Hall, University of Washington Press, 1981.
PUBLIC LECTURES, TEACHING
Barry Herem is noted as a lively and informed lecturer and writer. As such he has entertained and instructed a wide range of audiences throughout the United States and abroad.
- Completion of three two-year terms as a State-wide travelling lecturer through Humanities Washington of Seattle.
- Regularly scheduled lectures at the Stonington Gallery, Seattle, Washington
- Slide presentations and lectures in cooperation with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), main offices in Washington D.C.; at the Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the National Park Service, Sitka, Alaska; Alaska State Museum, Juneau; Totem Heritage Center, Ketchikan; the Burke Museum, University of Washington, and for private groups, corporations and public institutions in the Pacific Northwest , San Francisco, Washington D.C., and elsewhere.
- Featured lecturer at the Seattle Art Museum, Jan 1989, March of 1995, Oct. 2000, Feb. 2001
Presented popular lecture courses at the Heritage Institute of Antioch University, Seattle and in other Northwest cities; from April, 1989 to 1992.
- Field director and frequent lecturer for Resource Institute, Seattle, WA. during trips through historic and scenic areas of British Columbia and Alaska aboard a 65 foot schooner, 1989 to 2002.
- Instructor at Daniel Smith Inc. artists' materials outlet, Seattle; at Wolf Dancer, a private school of Northwest Coast style art on Lopez Island, WA. (continuing) at the Chinook Learning Center, Clinton, WA. 1988 and at North Island College, British Columbia, Cortes Island Campus, 1988.
WRITING, PHOTOGRAPHY, ADVENTURE
- Barry Herem has authored many articles, book and art reviews for numerous publications including Architectural Digest, Connoisseur Magazine, American Indian Art, Alaska Magazine and many Seattle publications including The Weekly, Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, and the Ethnic Arts Newsletter of the Seattle Art Museum.
- Authored Bill Reid: Making the Northwest Coast Famous, American Indian Art Magazine.
- Co-author of a mammoth 850-page site descriptive volume Native Cemetery and Historical Sites of Southeastern Alaska following the field direction of a comprehensive survey of over one thousand native villages, forts and burial sites throughout southeastern Alaska in 1974-75. This project was conducted under the auspices of the native Alaskan corporation Sealaska, published by same.
- Herem has completed a book-length manuscript about one of the leading artists in Northwest Coast style. Entitled "Duane Pasco: a life in the art of the Northwest Coast." It remains unpublished.
- A major highlight for Herem is having been hired by a native Tlingit family in 1994 to photo document a set of famous Tlingit artifacts, the house posts and carved Rainwall Screen of the Whale House of Klukwan, Alaska.
- Barry Herem is a multiple award-winning poet (Story: the yearbook of discovery, 1968, Four Winds Press, New York, edited by Whit and Hallie Burnett) and regularly published photographer (see Honorable Mention, Archaeology Magazine, Nov-Dec. 1995 and photo of Nuu cha nulth sculpture, Winds of Renewal, p. 137, Time-Life Books, 1996).
- Herem annually spends as much as a month or more each summer on canoe voyages to archaeological sites and scenic areas of the British Columbian and Alaskan coasts.