...between Indigenous art and the art of the world by fusing many ideas that will enrich the body of my art form, My hope is that by doing this we as a society can see the beauty in all cultures and embrace the spirit that connects us all in an ever embracing rainbow of colour." RC
Rande Cook (Kwa’kwa’ka’wakw) was born in 1977, in beautiful Alert Bay B.C. Canada. A small fishing village rich in culture and traditional values, located on Cormorant Island, along the Northeastern coast of Vancouver Island. Cook was raised by the strong teachings of his grandparents, Gus and Florence Matilpi. The Thunderbird, Sun, Kulus, Seagull and Sisiutul are his predominant family crest symbols.
While growing up, Cook and his grandfather observed and discussed the traditional art forms of their Kwa’kwa’ka'wakw heritage. More specifically drawn to the ceremonial masks and the art of the potlatch. Cook holds chieftainships from his maternal side and his paternal side. From his father’s side he is from the Gigalgam (The First Ones). Making the Thunderbird (Kwanusila) the crest of the "Namgis (Nimpkish) tribe. From his mother’s side, he is from the Seagull (Hamatam) of the Ma'amtagila (Matilpi Village) tribe.
In 1991, Rande Cook moved to Victoria B.C. to attend high school. Throughout this time, his passion for the arts started to evolve, as did his skills. Cook worked at perfecting both Indigenous and Western art forms. He found himself consistently drawn to the strong classical form of Northwest Coast art. Cook studied the styles and formlines of the different nations, focusing primarily on the northern tribes of Vancouver Island.
Very early in his career, Cook apprenticed with master carver John Livingston, husband of his aunt Maxine Matilpi. Livingston took him under his wing and guided him through the opportunities of the world of woodcarving. Shortly after graduating from Victoria High School and in addition two years of Camosun College, Cook dedicated himself to his art with the influence of the craftsmanship by his cousin Patrick Seaweed and his brother William Cook Jr. whom both jewellers.
Cook soon found himself well immersed in jewelry making full time. His own unique pieces deeply carved and with cutout forms that continued to maintain the traditional motifs of his heritage. In the years of working with Livingston, Cook worked and met with many other artists that influenced his work of today, such as Robert Davidson, Calvin Hunt, Susan Point and Art Thompson and many more. In 2010, Cook travelled to Italy to study Chasing and Repousse techniques in metal with Master Valentin Yotkov. From there, Cook went to New York for further studies.
Rande Cook often finds himself lost in the study of ancient Kwa’kwa’ka’wakw pieces found in Museums around the world. This is where he seeks to push the boundaries by understanding the ancient fundamentals of form. This has given Cook his unique style of today while balancing the strict laws of design.
As part of his career journey, Rande Cook has had many opportunities in taking on Residencies where he explores and implements his own personal style and signature. Recently, in 2017, Cook was the Artist in Resident for Pilchuck’s Glass School in Washington. Where he was educated on the art of glass making and working with a team of professional glass blowers. Cook gained knowledge in pushing the boundaries of his artforms translating them into glass form. Shortly after, Cook was the Artist in Resident for the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington. He was presented a professional team of glass artists and continued to take full advantage in practicing and pushing his traditional and contemporary artforms. Leaving with many valuable glass pieces, which some have been incorporated in his pieces today.
Rande Cook resides with his family in Victoria, where he is inspired by new ideas every day. He continues to strive for diversity and originality, and his imaginative pieces push the envelope of contemporary and traditional Northwest Coast art already being pursued by museums and art collectors from around the globe. Cook has accumulated a unique combination of 23 years of heritage, knowledge and experience. Making the gentle rebel continually pushing boundaries to create beautiful and provocative works challenging audiences to reconsider the role of traditional techniques for contemporary artmaking.
Today, Cook continues to be involved in his community, culture, preserving Vancouver Island old growth rainforest, and as a public figure. He continues to hold his chieftainship and has hosted potlatch ceremonies for his family, celebrating culture and carrying on strong teachings while dedicating time in preserving his cultural roots. With knowing where his roots come from, Cook balances advancing his career so he may continue to share with the world his love for the arts and his love for his heritage.
Rande Cook has currently completed the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Victoria, completing his MFA as a graduate of 2021.