David R. Boxley is well known in Alaska as a teacher of formline design, the term used to describe the complex shapes and compositions unique to Northwest Coast art. At Sealaska Heritage's 2016 awards ceremony for its Juried Art Show and Competition, Boxley—who won Best of Show and Best of Formline that year—said formline is his passion.
“I have worked for a very long time to understand formline,” Boxley said. “I believe it is the most beautiful thing in the world.”
Boxley began learning formline design from his father, David A. Boxley, when he was 6 years old. He studied under him into his 20s and under Haida master artist Robert Davidson from 2009-2011. He has spent countless hours studying the old Northwest Coast art masterpieces in various museum collections around the world. He attended two years of art school in Seattle before leaving to focus on his traditional artwork. In 2014-2015 he helped his father, an internationally known artist, create the Shuká Hít house front at SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building. He also created one of three bronze house posts mounted outside of the building. Boxley's style of design is based strongly on the works of the old masters. He has taught formline design in Seattle, Anchorage and Southeast Alaska. He is also at the forefront of revitalizing Sm’algyax, the Native language of the Tsimshian people.