August 21, 2000
Ralph Bennett at Duvall's recent Sandblast festival.
Staff photo by Becky Nixon.
Duvall wood carver Ralph Bennett was honored with a Governor's Heritage Award. Bennett, who works from Bear Creek Studios in Woodinville, 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.
"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.
At the awards ceremony in Olympia, Secretary of State Ralph Munro, along with the Washington State Arts Commission, presented 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.