Keith Wolfe Smarch belongs to the generation of Yukon artists who established the use of Tlingit art forms, sometimes with a considerable amount of effort. As a result, he regards traditional forms as being almost sacred; he reproduces them in a matter that is as unadulterated as possible. Keith is convinced that the formal elements – the ovoid, the U-shape and the split-U – that only occur in North West Coast art, will serve him as a source of inspiration for a long time to come. However, a number of young artists are already venturing to make their first experiments and are combining traditional forms with new ones. Keith has his misgivings about this development. He fears that Tlingit art will become diluted before it has had a chance to establish itself purely.
When Keith first became interested in Tlingit art in the early 1980’s, he found nothing of the like in the Yukon, in terms of neither art nor expertise. Consequently, he traveled to British Columbia, where he studied under Dempsey Bob and Freda Diesing.
Keith is passionate about teaching. While fulfilling himself as an artist is important to him, he attaches even greater importance to passing his knowledge through his art and culture. For this reason, he fosters contacts with schools and museums, as well as with other artists.