TowerIn a career he describes as both “passionate and compulsive” Barry Herem's work as a Formline Artist owes its inspiration to the unique design “system” developed by the Native peoples of the ancient Northwest Coast of North America, as well as to the many artists and scholars who have taken up this art in modern times.

This style of art has many names, most formally it is referred to as Northwest Coast Indian Art (in Canada "Westcoast Art") and also Formline Art, or sometimes simply "Flat Design". Each of these terms signify a learned and disciplined use of expressive graphic conventions which usually depict uniquely stylized animal and human forms in both two-dimensional and sculptural images, all based on a coherent intellectual “system” of ordered curvilinear space (positive/ negative forms) impossible to accurately describe but which can be immediately recognized in a work as singular as a traditionally carved wooden chest from the 19th century:




Herem was an early student of this art in its modern revival, having met American, non-Native scholar and artist Bill Holm in 1965, the same year as Holm's publication of the most authorative and influential treatis ever written on the subject, a true classic: Northwest Coast Indian Art, an analysis of form." He took up the form almost immediately and with “equal parts assimilation and invention” Herem has focused on renewing and extending this art towards both the creation of true contemporary, as well as traditional work. He has done this through a learned re-application of “the rules” in many "new" materials including bronze, cast-paper, glass, steel, aluminum plate, silver, fabric, wood and serigraph print form. He is particularly noted for instigating innovative use of some of these materials and is recognized for influencing many practitioners with fresh creations while retaining and expressing the essential principles of "the art".


Double Orca


As such he was the first to use cast paper (1984), one of the first to utilize bronze (1973), and his pioneering use of enameled aluminum plate, stainless steel and cor-ten steel dates from 1982. He has also been among the first to parlay classic Formline structure (the design system) into true abstraction (see website essay What Is This Art?/What This Art Is, [under development]).

Apart from training in bronze casting and steel welding at Pratt Institute in Seattle, Washington his training in design has all come from intermittent, long term association with several of the leading Northwest Coast style artists and scholars of his time: Bill Holm, George MacDonald, Bill Reid, Duane Pasco, Joe David, Robert Davidson, Beau Dick et al., in addition to studied observation of historic and contemporary work from museum and private collections, art galleries and varied publications.

Herem has also been strongly influenced by a period of intense ethnographic field work among the native people of Southeastern Alaska in a study funded by Sealaska Corporation of Juneau, Alaska. This resulted in a published 850-page landmark study both edited and written by Herem in 1974: Historic Site Survey of Southeast Alaskan Grave and Village Sites (see biographical details).

In addition to his art work Herem is also noted as a lively lecturer, writer, poet, photographer and adventurer who has a long history of extended and ongoing canoe travel among the fjords and inlets of Britis Columbia and Southeastern Alaska.

Barry Herem was born in Michigan in 1941, raised in Portland, Oregon and lived in Seattle, Washington from 1964 to 2007. He has attended Portland State University, Brigham Young University, the University of Washington, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He received his B.A. in 1963 and currently lives in Everett, Wa., from 2007.


Herem is currently developing several new steel and aluminum “stela”, or plinth forms, designed to work as fully realized small sculptures, and\or as maquettes for larger works. One-man shows of his work have been held at the Stonington Gallery in Seattle, Wa., beginning in 1979 to the present.

The artist frequently produces new jewelry designs for Metal Arts Group in Portland, Oregon, ten of these in 2009, more now under production and he is regularly involved in the production of new prints and cards through the management of Taku Graphics of Juneau, Alaska.




Gallery and museum exhibitions have been continuous in one or more American and Canadian cities since 1974, as well as in Berlin, Germany in 1984. These include shows in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, BC, Portland, Seattle, and Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka, Alaska.

Herem's work has also been comissioned by the Washington State Arts Commission, King County Arts and can be found in the permanent collections of the Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle; The Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottwa/Hull, Quebec, Canada; the Museum of Wildlife Art, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Museum of Northwest Art, LaConner, Washington and in the Ubersee-Museum Bremen, Germany. In print format his work has also appeared in the Seattle Art Museum, The Smithsonian Institution, the Alaska State Museum and in innumerable other public institutions and art venues throughout North America and beyond.




Fish Panel




Glass Wall



Barry Herem is noted as a lively and informed lecturer and writer. As such he has entertained and instructed a wide range of audiences throughout the United States and abroad.

Fish TotemHighlights:




Hanging Eagle






Blue Disc












Large Copper


Red Metal Sculpture




Arlington Metal


Raven Gates