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Daniel Leen was born in Seattle in 1947, studied Anthropology at Beloit College in Beloit Wisconsin, graduating with honors in 1969. He became interested in Northwest Coast art after moving to British Columbia in 1972 and spent about a dozen years first building and then living aboard and sailing between southern Puget Sound and northern British Columbia. During this period he visited many remote village sites, widely scattered pictograph and petroglyph sites, and the major archaeological and ethnographic artifact collections at various museums.
He has worked at a number of archaeological excavation projects including Ozette, Namu, and Seattle’s West Point, and has also conducted inventories of prehistoric rock art sites in Puget Sound and on the northern B.C. coast by sailboat. Four summers spent manning U.S. Forest Service fire lookouts in wilderness areas and a stint in Alaska’s Brooks Range caretaking a cabin has also given him time to develop his carving skills with an attention to detail rarely seen in modern Northwest Coast art.
Largely self taught, Leen has received informal instruction from such well known carvers as Bill Reid and Bill Holm. The small size of these pieces forces the artist to reduce the designs to their basic structures, giving them an archaic or “primitive” look. Rather than attempting to express his own personal style in modern Northwest Coast art, Leen’s stated goal is to produce modern amulets that appear to be “old fashioned and traditional”. After more than 20 years spent carving Northwest Coast art, he has lately returned to other styles, including Celtic knots, Mimbres pottery designs, and other folk art traditions.
Click the following images to read newspaper articles about Leen (from Seattle Weekly, August 4, 1993 and AZ Journal American, May 13, 1980).