Terry Starr (Thla-enak)

TERRY STARR Terry Starr was born in March 1951. He is from the Gispax Laats Tribe of the Tsimshian Nation. Terry's mother was from Kitsumkalum of the Eagle Clan, and his father was from Laxkwalaams, or the town of Port Simpson of the Killerwhale clan.  His predominant family crest is the Eagle on his mother’s side, while his sub crest is the Killerwhale on his father’s.  The Tsimshian Nation is located halfway north up the British Columbia coast, directly east of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Terry currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Alu'-Alums or 'Crying for or longing after something or someone' Terry was given this childhood name when he was 6 years old by the Chief of the Tribe when his grandfather passed away. Thla-enak or 'It's been a long time' - his adult name was given to him by the acting Chief when Terry returned to the village after a long absence. 



Terry's work has been seen in various art shows and exhibitions around North America. He has been commissioned to paint screens and logos for businesses and museums, and has done carving demonstrations at museums. He works in a wide range of mediums, including woodcarvings of various kinds, massive screens, and drums.

On two separate occaisions Terry has been contracted to construct a full-scale replicas of traditional Tsimshian Bighouses. For both of these projects, he was responsible for hiring and training a crew of carvers.  One was for the
Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, and the other was onsite at the Port Simpson village where he grew up. 



 1987 Hands of Creation, Inuit Gallery, Vancouver, BC

1989 Masks: An Exhibition of Northwest Coast Masks, Inuit Gallery, Vancouver, BC

1990 Painted Drums of the Northwest Coast, Inuit Gallery, Vancouver, BC

1991 Maltwood Art Museum & Gallery, University of Victoria Art Collections acquisition of 9 Terry Starr Ink & Pencil designs

1993 Changing Faces, Stonington Gallery, Seattle, WA

1994 Life of the Copper: A Commonwealth of Tribal Nations, Alcheringa Gallery, Victoria, BC

 2001 - The Canada Art Bank -  Aquisition of a Terry Starr - PORTRAIT MASK ("The works were selected on the basis of artistic excellence")


Subsequent to completing a college business course in 1982, Terry purchased two adzes and three knives, his first carving tools. Tim Paul of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation and Richard Hunt of the Kwakwaka’wakw people were among the first to influence Terry on the basic techniques of carving wood. Their ancestral styles greatly influence the artwork that he creates today.  In 1984, he sat and learned carving techniques from Richard Hunt, master Kwagiulth artist at Thunderbird Park and the British Columbia Provincial Museum in Victoria, British Columbia. Terry assisted Richard Hunt in carving a thirty-foot Kwagiulth totem pole, which was shipped to Expo '89 in Australia.


Terry is best known for his superbly refined masks reflecting the traditional pigments and form lines of his ancestry. He usually paints only a portion of his masks to deliberately reveal the fluid grain of the wood. As Terry’s career spans over twenty five years, his expertise in achieving detail and his commitment to maintaining the traditional Tsimshian style is prevalent in his artwork. His pieces can be found in many local and international collections.