Erik Prytula is a Haida artist from the eagle clan Tsiits Gitanee who specializes in design, argillite sculpting and acryllic painting. Erik began his career as a self-taught artist in 2013 and is currently learning how to carve cedar with his mentor, master carver Reg Davidson. In 2015 Erik was commissioned to complete an 8’ x 12’ mural for Thompson Rivers University called “Taking Flight”. Erik has developed a traditional style in which he emphasizes flow and intricacy. In the future Erik plans to continue working with argillite and acrylic painting, while also creating argillite pendants and cedar carvings. Erik has viewed his art as a way of being culturally in touch as well as a way of inspiring the youth of tomorrow.
The word argillite (derived from Argillaceous, argil meaning clay), is used to describe a dark shaley well-consolidated rock found in many places including Haida Gwaii and Southeastern Alaska. The slatechuck argillite found on Haida Gwaii, however is different from other argillite in having no quartz or feldspar, and in being composed of a series of clay with highly complex organic matter.
A British Columbia Order-in-council dated May 7, 1941 provided for the sale to the federal government of the land “containing deposit of black slate for the use and benefit of the Haidas”. The argillite deposit was thus placed in the hands of the Haida in perpetuity.