Clayton Saunders (Sesyaz)

Born February 19, 1998 (Kimsquit, BC)

While some are said to be born with a silver spoon in their mouths, you might say Ses was born with a carving knife in his hand. Almost before he could walk he was at his dad’s side carving on a piece of wood while his father worked on his next mask.Sesyaz comes from a long generation of carvers in his family, he is currently a 4th generation carver, carving is in Ses’s blood.

Learning the fundamentals of Nuxalk art, carving and Northwest coast formalize through his father and grandfather, gave Sesyaz a great advantage to his knowledge. This combination of Sesyaz’s skill, knowledge, passion and a great natural talent have allowed Ses to excel in his craft at an early age and create works of art well beyond his years.

In the summer of 2017, Sesyaz had the pleasure of meeting one of his idols, Robert Davidson. During this meeting he was able to establish a connection with Robert, and began a mentor-apprentice relationship.Sesyaz now travels to Bella Coola, to the lower mainland often to work with Robert in his studio.

Sesyaz is a two time YVR Art Foundation Youth Scholarship recipients, who has continued working along side his Mentor Robert Davindson to date. Working with Robert has been very beneficial to Sesyaz, from refining his designs to carving techniques that Robert learned along his journey. Being able to learn from a master of the art at such and early stage of his career is an honour that Sesyaz doesn’t take lightly.

Sesyaz can be found in his carving shed at home in Bella Coola, carving in either antler, red cedar and yellow cedar wood. He carves large masks, panels, articulated crest masks, and even miniature masks, all in Nuxalk style. Once in a while, he will pick up a canvas, but mostly he is always covered in wood chips, his favourite medium.

When Sesyaz isn’t busy creating art, he can be found out in his traditional lands either fishing, hunting, gathering firewood or exploring.

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