Big Bird, 1979

Marvin Oliver
(American | Quinault | Isleta-Pueblo, born 1946, died 2019)

Location: Yelm High School, Yelm


Big Bird is a carved and painted cedar wood sculpture by late Native American artist and master carver Marvin Oliver. He created it using traditional Northwest Coast designs, colors, and motifs.

This artwork was acquired for the State Art Collection in partnership with Yelm School District.


Seattle-based artist Marvin Oliver (1946-2019) was a master carver, sculptor, and printmaker producing works in cedar, bronze, glass, steel, and paper.

Oliver was born in Shelton on southern Puget Sound and worked within the traditions of Northwest Coast designs and themes. He was also an important influence on contemporary Native American art and artists. He described his art as "formulated by merging the spirit of past traditions with those of the present... to create new horizons for the future." Many of his artworks express his ideas and Native American stories about life, time, traditions, ancestors, the universe, and his hope for future generations.

Oliver received a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State University in 1970 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Washington in 1973. He was Professor Emeritus of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington and Adjunct Curator of Contemporary Native American Art at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, both in Seattle. In the 1970s, he began a tradition of an annual “Raven’s Feast” dinner at the University of Washington to celebrate the accomplishments of Native American and Alaska Native graduates. He also gifted one of his prints to each graduate. Raven’s Feast has grown into a cornerstone of the UW Native community.

MediumCarved and painted western red cedar wood
Dimensions7 ft 6 in x 15 ft 9 in x 1 1/2 in
ID NumberWSAC1979.095.000
Acquisition MethodSite responsive commission
Artist LocationWashington, United States
Location Information
AgencyYelm Community Schools
Artwork LocationYelm High School
Commons area
WA CountyThurston
Site TypePublic School
Address1315 W Yelm Ave.
Yelm, WA 98597
Geo. Coordinates46.950619 | -122.624327
Before VisitingSome artworks may be located in areas not accessible to the general public (especially in K-12 public schools). Consider contacting the site prior to a visit to ensure access.