Outstanding BC First Nations Artists Celebrated
2017 First Nations Art recipients
The BC Achievement Foundation presented the 2017 BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations Art on Tuesday, November 21st at The Roundhouse in Vancouver. An installation of the artists’ work was showcased at the ceremony.
"By honouring the best in First Nations art, we celebrate the inheritance of a rich cultural tradition," said Scott McIntyre, Foundation Chair. "The 2017 award recipients are exemplary standard-bearers for all BC artists, and provide inspiration for those who will follow."
Delores Purdaby, a master basketry artist from the Secwepemc-Neskonlith community, received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, an honour bestowed on individuals who have made a profound contribution to their First Nations culture. Dempsey Bob, a master carver, and one of the two inaugural recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award presented Delores with her award.
Following the establishment of the Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist Award at last year’s presentation ceremony, Danika Naccarella – an emerging Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw and Nuxalk artist – was the inaugural recipient of this award. The award’s namesakes, Brenda Crabtree and Bill McLennan, presented the award to Danika.
The awards, sponsored by Polygon Homes Ltd., are presented by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation. The annual BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art celebrate artistic excellence in traditional, contemporary or media art.
The 2017 recipients chosen by the jury panel are:
Corey Bulpitt is an artist from the Haida Na7ikun-Raven Clan and holds the name T’aak’eit G’aayaa, meaning “gifted carver.” The great-great-grandson of renowned artists Charles Edenshaaw and Louis Collison, he apprenticed under master carver Christian White and has worked with Dempsey Bob, Joe David, Jim Hart and Beau Dick, among others. Corey is known internationally for his fusion of hip hop culture and Haida traditional style in large-scale spray painted pieces, creating work for the National Gallery of Canada, Facebook Head Office in Seattle, and the Vancouver Mural Festival. Working with mediums as diverse as wood, argillite, gold, silver, glass, textiles, spray paint, and traditional Kiida (hand-poke) tattooing, Corey has steeped himself in the traditional work of his ancestors, forming a foundation for his distinctive contemporary style.
Kwakwaka’wakw-‘Namgis / Mamalilikala
Born in Alert Bay, but raised in Victoria, Kevin's first experience seeing Kwakwaka'wakw art was at the age of four when his father took him to Chief Tony Hunt’s "Arts of the Raven" gallery. Inspired by his father, Danny, and encouraged by his mother, Lily, Kevin's first formal teaching came in a grade eight native art class taught by relative George Hunt Jr, and was furthered with Tony Hunt and relatives Chief Calvin Hunt, Tony Hunt Jr, John Livingston, and Chief Frank Nelson. Kevin had the opportunity to work at Thunderbird Park at the Royal BC Museum where he assisted Nuu-chah-nulth carver, Tim Paul, on three totem pole projects: a 40-foot pole in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, a 30-foot pole at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, and a 35-foot pole for the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand. His most fulfilling work is that created for family or ceremony, and to that end he carved a Chief’s Chair for the reopening of the ‘Namgis Bighouse in Alert Bay in memory of his grandmother Gwantilakw-Agnes Cranmer. Currently, with the guidance of his uncles, Chief Calvin Hunt and John Livingston, he is carving a 40-foot totem pole in memory of his father, Daniel Earl Cranmer.
Steven Davies is a filmmaker and media artist of Snuneymuxw and European descent. His work revolves around cultural and political themes, which reconnect with Indigenous histories and epistemologies and serve as educational tools. Through film, Steven calls attention to underrepresented perspectives and brings a sense of empowerment and pride to those often marginalized. He feels a huge responsibility to the cultural leaders that have mentored and supported him, and the individuals whose voices and images are shared in his work. By referencing Indigenous sovereignty and Indigenous cultural resurgence, his goal is to challenge and disrupt dominant Western perspectives and relationships to land and place. Steven’s work has been screened locally, nationally and internationally at a number of film festivals and has been installed in galleries across Canada.
Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw / Nuxalk
Danika Naccarella is the inaugural recipient of the Crabtree MacLennan Emerging Artist Award. A hardworking, talented young artist of Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw and Nuxalk descent, Danika melds her understanding of classic northern Northwest Coast design with Nuxalk style, while remaining respectful to historical rules and traditions. Her graduation from Acwsalcta School in Bella Coola saw her head to Terrace to begin a two-year diploma at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art where she distinguished herself as a methodical, thoughtful, and confident artist. She has been the recipient of the YVR Art Foundation Award, a BC Arts Council Scholarship and the President’s Award at Northwest Community College. More recently, Danika accepted a residency with Earthline Tattoo Training in Kelowna to immerse herself in traditional hand-poke tattooing and skin-stitch techniques. She has returned to Bella Coola to continue learning and to mentor younger Indigenous artists as an art teacher at Acwsalcta School.
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is an award-winning contemporary visual artist of mixed Haida and European ancestry. The descendant of iconic artists Isabella Edenshaw, Charles Edenshaw and Delores Churchill, his early training was under exceptional creators and master carvers of talented lineage. Yahgulanaas has made significant contributions to expanding the understanding of Indigenous art and ideas and has been influenced by both traditional Haida iconography and contemporary Asian visual culture. His visual practice encompasses many forms, including intimate graphic ink drawings, multi-panel watercolours, large-scale public art projects, mixed media sculptures and canvases, and illustrated publications. From repurposed ledger books to reclaimed car hoods, his works are whimsical and original. Yahgulanaas uses his art to communicate a worldview that, while particular to Haida Gwaii, is also relevant to a contemporary and internationally engaged audience.
Many thanks to Cathi Charles Wherry, Arts Program Coordinator, of the First Peoples' Heritage, Language and Culture Council who provided tremendous assistance in the establishment of the award.
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BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations Art
Past Award Recipients
Lifetime Achievement Award