July 28, 2021 – Until recently, gift shops in some of British Columbia’s most famous museums and art galleries have sold wood carvings by an artist identified as “Harvey John” for hundreds of dollars a piece.
According to the standard biography used by these shops, Harvey John is Nuu-Chah-Nulth from Vancouver Island and learned traditional Northwest Coast formline carving from an uncle.
But none of that is true. There is no Harvey John, and the person responsible for these carvings is not Indigenous at all.
Thanks to some pointed questions from Indigenous artists, an art dealer from the Fraser Valley has admitted that Harvey John is a pseudonym and that he’s been knowingly deceiving buyers across the country and around the world for years.
“It’s really troubling, just in the sense that someone would project such a false identity,” said Curtis Collins, director and chief curator of Whistler’s Audain Art Museum.
The museum’s shop recently notified people who’ve purchased Harvey John pieces about the deceit, letting them know they can get a full refund.
Along with the Audain, the Museum of Anthropology and the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver both confirm they’ve removed Harvey John pieces from their shops and cut ties with the supplier. CBC News reports. | READ MORE