Ned Bear

Ned Bear (1954- ) was a sculptor from the Wolistoqiyik First Nations Community in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Bear, inspired by a Native Elder carver as a young boy, received formal training at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, where he became the first aboriginal student to graduate. Bear received additional training at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now the First Nations University of Canada), the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and the University of New Brunswick, where he obtained a Bachelor of Education.

Bear created sculpted masks and marble or limestone figure forms. His masks are approximately three feet high and are usually carved from butternut or yellow birch. Each mask is adorned with horse hair (symbolizing the free spirit), bear fur (symbolizing healing), and/or metal (symbolizing something which is of the earth). Each mask or “spirit helper” tells a story and offers a modern interpretation of traditional spiritual beliefs. When creating art, Bear considered himself to be simply a vehicle through which energy flows from the eternal Great Spirit to the medium he was using. He said: “I prepare no preliminary designs or sketches for any of my work…allowing the spirit to guide me, and the medium to speak on its own behalf.”

Ned Bear made significant contributions as an instructor of Native art and culture, a curator, a guest speaker, and a juror. He served as the Director of Education for Saint Mary’s First Nation and as a member of the New Brunswick Arts Board. In 2006, he won first prize at the prestigious Face the Nationcompetition at the UC Davis Design Museum. Bear pursued a Masters degree in Native art education at the University of New Brunswick.

“We delve into so many past wrongs of our lives that we forget to revel in the present. Learn to capture what you may never have again, now! Do what makes you content for this time, and begin to realize the true purpose of life.” 

- Ned Bear