August 7, 2000
Local carver is recipient of Governor's Heritage Award
Duvall wood carver Ralph Bennett will be honored August 24 with a Governor's Heritage Award.
Bennett is a sixth generation Haida master wood carver, whose works are carried by galleries throughout the west. For the last 28 years, Bennett, 51, has made valuable contributions to the ethnic and cultural heritage of Washington by creating and sharing traditional Haida storytelling and carving. The Native American artist, who grew up in Hydaburg, Alaska, has a long history of community involvement, presenting workshops, demonstrations and stories throughout the region.
During his five years as an artist-in-residence in Slough House, a King County Park located in Redmond, he carved his own work on-site and taught his skills to others, mentoring many wood carving students.
In addition, Bennett developed cultural education programs for thousands of visitors to the park. He has had four apprentices who use the carving and storytelling traditions he taught them to carry on their own traditions.
Recently, Bennett hosted the opening ceremonies for Duvall's Sandblast festival, where he also demonstrated wood carving techniques.
"My goal is to inspire others to look into their own cultures...so they can begin to find dignity and spiritual pride in their own heritage," Bennett explained.
The Governor's Arts and Heritage Awards will be presented in a ceremony and reception at the State Theatre in Olympia on August 24. Secretary of State Ralph Munro, along with the Washington State Arts Commission, will present awards to Bennett and five other outstanding individuals and organizations for their significant contributions to the cultural life of Washington state.
Since 1966, the Governor's Arts Awards have recognized 146 individuals and organizations. The Governor's Heritage Awards, which began in 1989, have recognized 45 individuals and organizations.