2015 BC First Nations Art Awards Announced
2015 First Nations Art recipients with Hon. John Rustad
Hon. John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation presented the 2015 BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art to six recipients on Monday, December 7.
“Congratulations to the six remarkable artists who work so hard to sustain artistic traditions while representing the continuing vitality of First Nations communities throughout British Columbia,” said Foundation Chair Keith Mitchell. “These awards highlight the immense cultural traditions of each recipient. They join 43 First Nations artists that the Foundation has had the privilege of recognizing over the past nine years.”
The annual BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art celebrate artistic excellence in traditional, contemporary or media art. The 2015 recipients honoured are:
The awards were selected by the following jury members:
Dempsey Bob, world renowned carver, teacher and recipient of the Order of Canada; Brenda Crabtree, Aboriginal Program Director at Emily Carr University; Bill McLennan, the Museum of Anthropology’s Curator Emeritus; and Richard Sumner, celebrated artist, carver, and 2010 recipient of this award.
The work of Tahltan – Tlingit artist Linda Bob encompasses ceremonial regalia and beadwork. Acknowledging that her history and culture is at the heart of her work, Linda has a deep passion to merge Tahltan and Tlingit traditions with contemporary style. While guided and inspired by traditional concepts, Linda moves outside Tahltan motifs into more fluid forms found in other Pacific Northwest traditions. Linda Bob's work can be found in the National Museum of the American Indian, the Royal Ontario Museum, and has been exhibited at the Museum of Anthropology and the Spirit Wrestler Gallery.
While growing up, Kwakwaka'wakw artist Rande Cook was drawn to the traditional art forms of his people and was especially connected to the ceremonial masks and art of the potlatch. Apprenticed to master carver John Livingston, Cook honed his carving skills focusing primarily on the northern tribes of Vancouver Island. After completing college, Cook immersed himself in jewellery making, creating unique pieces while maintaining the traditional motifs of his heritage. Cook continues to explore the ancient fundamentals of form while simultaneously striving for diversity and originality.
Ya'Ya Heit started carving in 1973 under the mentorship of his uncle, Walter Harris. While an apprentice, Ya'Ya attended the Kitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art. After graduation, he was asked to become an instructor at the school. Working on his uncle's commissions, Ya'Ya was soon receiving commissions of his own, often travelling throughout North America and always returning to his home in Kispiox. Internationally recognized for his work, Ya'Ya's carvings are inspired by his own life and experiences.
Arlene Ness describes her work as an exploration of new and old techniques". When carving her pieces she captures a moment in time and interprets experiences, history and legend while keeping the core of the art's creation true to her Gitxsan ancestry. Arlene's formative years were spent doing portraiture in pencil and pen and ink. Her years of studying faces led her to focus on the creation of portrait masks, crest masks and moon masks; which she describes as her comfort zone". When designing a mask, Arlene takes inspiration from old Gitxsan and Tsimshian portrait masks. Ness credits her lifetime of exposure to, and exploration of, mainstream native art to her love of, and career in First Nations' fine art.
Laura Wee Lay Laq
Tzeachten First Nation
Clay artist Laura Wee Lay Laq believes working with clay stops her internal dialogue giving her a sense of harmony and peace". Each of Laura's clay pots are hand-built, burnished and sawdust fired. In the artist's words, To take earth, give it personal expression, smooth it with a stone, give it to the fire by embedding the clay into the dust of trees and making it vulnerable to the natural elements completes a cycle on which I am proud to play a part". Wee Lay Laq is recognized as a cultural leader within her community and serves as a role model for all Aboriginal artists in her capacity to create quality work both in traditional and contemporary forms.
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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