Lou-ann Neel, First Nations artist and community arts’ advocate

“Visual art forms and practices are an integral part of our living cultures”. 

Lou-ann Neel descends from a rich history of artists on both sides of her family and has been practicing various forms of  Kwakwaka’wakw design for over forty years. “I started off painting and drawing, and then onto textiles, jewellery and I’ve been experimenting with digital design and other modern materials. Using technology was always of real interest to me so I enrolled in Emily Carr University and had a chance to really learn about how your artistic practice can come true in any way you want to, and that technology is just another tool.” 

In addition to her artistic practice, Lou-ann is a community arts’ advocate – always seeking to build solutions that will enable Indigenous artists to balance their respective rights, responsibilities and obligations with new, contemporary expressions of their work. 

Lou-ann was recognized for artistic excellence in traditional, contemporary and media art, and received the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art from the BC Achievement Foundation in 2020. “I feel incredibly honoured to have been recognized with Indigenous artists that I respect and admire for their work in keeping our traditions alive while also making meaning of the important histories and artistic practice of each of our respective Nations.” 

For artists like Lou-ann, it’s important to acknowledge artistic excellence. “I think it is vitally important to acknowledge both traditional and contemporary First Nations visual art forms and practices because all forms and practices are an integral part of our living cultures. I believe that there is still a great deal of wisdom and knowledge that we can draw from our traditional art forms, which is why I believe our Elders and mentors continue to teach the interconnectedness of creative and artistic practice to language, culture, and the natural world.” 

To learn more about Lou-ann Neel’s artistic practice and her achievement visit bcachievement.com  

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change. 

Karen Konzuk, artist and designer of concrete jewellery and objects

Through a studied use of clean lines and an unwavering commitment to a minimalist aesthetic, Karen Konzuk has developed a renowned modern line of handcrafted concrete jewellery for the contemporary design lover.  

Her jewellery is artfully constructed from the meaningful use of industrial materials. “I find my inspiration in architecture and from the material itself that I choose to work with.” Karen’s original inspiration for using concrete in jewellery was a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal where she was struck by the beauty of a wall that was concrete and lined with stainless steel. 

A resident of Garden Bay, BC, Karen is continually influenced by her surroundings. “Being able to live and work on the Sunshine Coast influences my creativity as I am constantly surrounded by an ever-changing landscape. The beautiful blue days of summer are equally inspiring as the grey landscape of winter.” When COVID-19 hit, it affected Karen’s shop as much as it did other artists and entrepreneurs, so she decided to add to her product line. In addition to her jewellery practice, Karen has added household designs that are functional yet works of art as well. “I am finding with the pandemic that people are more interested in beautifying their homes as they continue to isolate and work from home. I am planning to introduce quite a few new designs in the HouseHold collection as a result.”  

Karen reflects on the impact of receiving the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design in 2020. “It was a very exciting moment for me to hear I was recognized for my work, especially knowing this group of awardees was recognized for innovation. I feel this is a key element to my design that helps me to stand out from my competition.” She also feels it is important to acknowledge artistic excellence in applied art and design. “The world of art and design is extremely saturated and at times, it is hard to stand out. With social media and everything being digital there are a lot of copycats. To be recognized for the dedication we put into original design, attention to detail, and innovation brings us to the forefront and gives credibility to the work we have achieved.” 

In addition to the Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art and Design, Karen has garnered international attention including being invited in 2019 to develop an official jewellery collection by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation on Wright’s works. Karen Konzuk’s concrete jewellery, objects and wearable architecture is sold locally in BC in several locations: the Vancouver Art Gallery, Provide, the Polygon Art Gallery, the Audain Art Museum, and on her website, www.konzukshop.com  

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change. 

Small Business BC Awards: strengthening our province

BC Achievement is pleased to support the Small Business BC Awards (SBBC Awards) as a Community Partner. These important annual awards celebrate small business owners throughout British Columbia.  

Between now and March  8, you can nominate a small business you’ve worked with, or just your favourite small business in BC. This year, the SSBC Awards will honour entrepreneurs who were creative, determined and most of all, supported their communities in a challenging year. Nominate a business you love for an SBBC Award 2021 at sbbc.co/nominate 

Why should you get involved in making a nomination? Here are just a few reasons: 

  • The small business owners feel the support of their community 
  • Putting together a nomination will allow the business owner to see how far they have come in their business and help them plan for future success 
  • Nominees receive media attention for their business 
  • Impact of being an awardee helps elevate the business 

As a Community Partner, BC Achievement recognizes that supporting each other builds stronger relationships, expands awareness, and strengthens our province. Let’s celebrate those small businesses that make your community stronger! 

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change. 

Champions who Nominate: Thank you for leading the way

Recently, two of BC Achievement’s award programs closed their respective call for nominations with outstanding participation from nominators throughout the province. The British Columbia Reconciliation Award closed its call for nominations on January 15th and the Community Award followed two weeks later on January 31st. Without the hard work of champions who take the time to put forth a nomination, complete the online form, request and gather letters of support, these important community narratives would not be told, shared or celebrated. So firstly, a huge thank you to nominators who help fuel the inspiration to build stronger communities!   

It’s important to elevate excellence through nominations for award programs – it raises awareness of the powerful things happening in our communities and sets the path for innovation, change and leadership. Nominating an individual, artists, organizations or businesses for an award, showcases their creative initiative, their dedicated commitment to their practice, their tenacity and their excellence in their chosen field. Nominating is a great way to demonstrate respect and gratitude for someone who achieves excellence in their endeavours and whose story can inspire others through this recognition. 

What are the benefits of a successful nomination to an awardee? Most importantly, it helps raise the profile of the awardee and the community they serve. It reinforces that the awardee is on the right path and it helps validate all the efforts they’ve put into their chosen field as being worthwhile. A successful nomination also helps share experiences with others in the field, creating role models and establishing platforms for change while bringing people together over common interests and passions.

By recognizing the accomplishments of our province’s entrepreneurs, artists, community leaders, youth and volunteers, BC Achievement’s award programs pay tribute to exceptional people, doing exceptional work. Recognition serves as a tool that can contribute to growth and development of individuals, communities and organizations throughout the province. 

Thank you to the nominators, the champions, who put in the time  to support the work of the leaders, volunteers, makers, organizers, and doers. This province is a better place to live because of your efforts and we thank you for leading the way! 

To learn more about the programs BC Achievement offers, check out www.bcachievement.com