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William Callaghan was born in Whitehorse, YT. William’s Tlingit First Nations ancestry comes from Teslin, YT – a Tlingit community in Southern Yukon. He is from the Dakhlaweidi (Orca whale/Eagle) Clan. William is also of Irish, Norwegian, and French-Canadian descent and hoped to some day learn artistic practices from those cultures too.
William started carving at the age of nineteen, it was a bear mask he started with acclaimed Yukon artist, Eugene Alfred. In September 2005, he joined the Sundog carving program; William became a full-time artist. From then on he never looked back. William spent 8 years working and learning from the beginner/advanced carving programs. Throughout his artistic career in carving and form-line designing, William took the opportunities to be taught by ten different artists. Eight of those artists were part of the carving programs. He felt they had all influenced his art with valuable teachings to continue to grow and learn. William tried to emulate the Tlingit style of art, mixed with his own personal content to express through his work.
“My biggest inspirations in this field of art were the artists from the time of no electricity. I admire the patience these artists had to complete their creations without the luxury of the tools we have today.” – William Callaghan
Some specific art projects William has worked on are the Sundog Carving Program’s 30-foot red cedar dugout canoe in the summer of ’09 with Master-Carver Wayne Price; 5 different totem pole projects, including two of his own, the biggest being the 36-foot totem led again by Wayne Price. In 2007, William presented one of his masks to the Former Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean. In 2006 he had three pieces selected to be on temporary display at the United Nations building in New York City. William has carved masks, bowls, panels, paddles, totems, bentwood boxes, rattles, head-dresses, all of various sizes and he always said he would continue to make art for as long as his eyes and hands would permit. Perfecting metal engraving for jewelry was William’s next goal.
In 2013, located on Granville Island in Vancouver at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, William studied for his Bachelor’s degree in Fine art. He wanted to some day have his hands intertwined with many different art mediums.
Woodcarving will always be his grounding but “…constantly learning new ways to create is marvellous for progression. Knowledge is like a candle with unlimited wax and an everlasting wick. When ignited, the light will always be on even when it is dark.” – William Callaghan
“Art has always been a gatekeeper to the history of humankind across the globe. It shares the responsibility with literature and stories passed from the elderly voices to the young voices. With that, art is an unending resource for captured identity.” – William Callaghan