BC First Nations' artists honoured with awards

November 28, 2014

BC First Nations' artists honoured with awards

VANCOUVER – Hon. John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and British Columbia Achievement Foundation Chair Keith Mitchell presented awards to the recipients of the 2014 BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art, generously sponsored by Polygon Homes. Ltd.

"BC First Nations artists play a significant role in the creative life of British Columbia," said Mitchell. "These awards today highlight the immense cultural traditions of each recipient. They join 37 First Nations' artists that the Foundation has had the privilege of recognizing over the past eight years."

Alvin Mack, a Nuxalk artist from Bella Coola will receive this year's Lifetime Achievement Award, an honour bestowed on individuals who have made a profound contribution to their First Nations' culture.

The Annual BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations' Art celebrate artistic excellence in traditional, contemporary or media art. The 2014 recipients honoured are:

• Thomas A. Cannell, Coast Salish (Vancouver)
• Ben Davidson, Haida (Skidegate)
• Philip Gray, Tsimshian (West Vancouver)
• Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Wuikinuxw (Gibsons)
• Meghann O'Brien, Haida/Kwak-waka-wakw (Prince Rupert)

The awards were selected by jury members: renowned artist Robert Davidson, international photo-based artist Roy Arden, contemporary visual art curator Tania Willard, MOA's curator emeritus Bill McLennan, and Kathleen Bartels, Director, Vancouver Art Gallery (non-voting chair).

The BC Achievement Foundation is an independent foundation established and endowed by the Province of B.C. in 2003 to celebrate community service, arts, humanities and enterprise. For information on British Columbia Achievement Foundation, visit www.bcachievement.com

2014 Creative Lifetime Achievement Award for First Nation's Art

Alvin Mack, Bella Coola
Born in Bella Coola, British Columbia, Alvin was inspired at a young age to carve totem poles and ceremonial items in yellow cedar, using traditional Nuxalk art forms. Following graduation from the ‘Ksan School of Northwest Coastal Art where he graduated top of his class in 1985, Alvin returned to Bella Coola immersing himself in the culture of his ancestors while teaching himself to engrave gold and silver jewellery. A leading force in the reawakening of Nuxalk culture through his art projects, Alvin currently teaches at the Acwsaltca School. Working in several mediums, his work has been shown throughout the world.

2014 BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art

Thomas A. Cannell, Vancouver
The work of Coast Salish carver and designer Thomas Cannell reflects his respect and love for his Salish roots and the natural evolution of his people. Thomas works and lives on the Musqueam Reserve and has studied under and been mentored by his mother, Susan Point. He currently works on large-scale public art works in many different mediums with Susan and on his own. Thomas' public art pieces are shown in Richmond, Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster.

Ben Davidson, Skidegate
Haida artist Ben Davidson draws upon his knowledge of traditional Haida design and craftsmanship to create unique contemporary pieces. Ben is a member of a long line of respected Haida artists with whom he has apprenticed or studied including his father, Robert and his uncle Reg. Finely carved jewellery, cedar masks and panels, paper and forton casts and totem poles are all part of his practice. Ben's work is shows at his gallery in Skidegate and in BC's major galleries.

Philip Gray, West Vancouver
Philip Gray is known for his innovation that combines his creative style with the traditions of his Tsimshian roots. He works in cedar, alder and boxwood creating masks, sculptures, panels, poles and drums. His attention to detail and his understanding of the rules of design and color are hallmarks of his work. Philip's work is shown at the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington, the Bill Reid Gallery, the McMichael collection and major galleries in the Pacific Northwest.

Bracken Hanuse Corlett
A member of the Wuikinuxv Nation, Bracken is a graduate of the Enowkin Centre of Indigenous Art in Penticton and Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver. He is a multi-disciplinary artist who began first working in theater and performance prior to transitioning to digital-media and visual arts. Of Bracken, it has been said, the represents a new face of Aboriginal art in Canada with his ability to move between traditional and contemporary media with ease.

Meghann O'Brien, Prince Rupert
Textile artist and weaver Meghann O'Brien was born in Alert Bay of Haida, Kwak-waka'waka and Irish ancestry. Megahan's robes and baskets are intricate and labour intensive and reflect her commitment to working with materials from the earth: bark, roots, wool and sinew. Meghann has worked with master weavers such as Tismishian artist William White and Haida artist Sherri Dick.

Detailed information about the awards and a list of past winners is posted on the foundation's website at www.bcachievement.com

Nora Newlands
Executive Director BC Achievement Foundation
604 618-6949

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