Marvin Oliver is one of the Northwest Coast’s foremost contemporary sculptors and printmakers, who has made strides in the art world for the development and recognition of Native American Contemporary Fine Art.
Oliver’s career spans over 40 years, and he has worked in a variety of media including cedar, bronze, steel and glass. The latest period of his work has been characterized by mixed-media pieces such as his blown glass ‘Salish Basket’ and ‘Spirit Board’ series with etched photographs and bronze ravens. He has also become renowned for the grand size of his sculptures such as the 26 foot long suspended steel and glass piece ‘Mystical Journey’ at the Seattle Children’s hospital. Oliver’s monumental public works have been installed throughout the state of Washington and the United States, Canada, Japan and Italy. Oliver was of Quinault and Isleta-Pueblo heritage. He drew upon the Northwest Coast half of his heritage for artistic inspiration, combining northern formline design with southern Coast Salish imagery. Oliver’s dual heritage allowed him to incorporate influences of two cultures which each have a tradition of being interpreted visually. Both the Pueblo and the Quinault are tribes whose culture was taught through oral tradition that was depicted in carving, weaving, and ceremonial pottery.
Oliver is Professor of American Indian Studies and Art at the University of Washington, and serves as Adjunct Curator of Contemporary Native American Art at the Burke Museum. He also holds a part-time post at the University of Alaska Ketchikan.