Micah Vogel

Micah Vogel
Makah, 1974

Transformation Mask Hawk and Frog
Alder, hair


A master artist who specializes in Makah-style carving of masks, rattles, totem poles, and drums, Micah Vogel began carving at the age of nine. At sixteen, he apprenticed with master carver Greg Colfax on the Makah Reservation, and by his early twenties had established himself as a professional carver. He has won awards at the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Show and the Indian Art Northwest Show in Portland, Oregon. As a mentor in the 1996 Washington State Arts Commission Folk Arts program, Micah taught his cousin Jazz Aguirre traditional Makah carving techniques, including roughing out, fine finishing, painting, and making hair for masks and headdresses. Micah believes that giving young people the skills to become carvers can help to keep them off the streets, providing a source of income, assisting them in forming important connections with their cultural heritage, and cultivating their self-esteem.

Transformation masks are complex, intricately built masks designed to depict the dual nature of mythological beings. The Kwakwaka’wakw carried this art to its highest form. [16] The masks are used in dances, where the dancer may “open” the mask via a series of strings in order to reveal a second figure, usually a “human” mask concealed within an animal exterior. Transformation masks are constructed from several sections; the outer sections come together to form the animal or mythological form, which then split to the sides to reveal the interior mask. [16]

Hawthorn, Audrey. (1988). Kwakiutl Art. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-88894-612-0. Page 238.