Outstanding BC First Nations artists honoured with Fulmer Award

Fulmer Award First Nations Art Placeholder

VANCOUVER – The BC Achievement Foundation (BCAF) today announced the six recipients of the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art. The recipients will be celebrated through an online campaign #shinethelightbc honouring their artistic excellence in traditional, contemporary or media art. 

“We at the BC Achievement Foundation are delighted to take this opportunity to recognize the six 2021 recipients of the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art. Their work builds on deep traditions while also illuminating new pathways,” said BCAF chair Anne Giardini. “This year’s awardees join eighty-five artists from the Award’s past fifteen years. Fulmer Award alumni help to make British Columbia a place for innovation and creative success,” she added. 

The 2021 recipients, chosen by an independent jury, are: 

Crystal Behn, Dene & Carrier – Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist
Sgaanjaad Sherri Dick, Haida & Kootenay 
James Harry, Squamish & ‘Namgis 
Dean Hunt, Heiltsuk 
Shawn Karpes, ‘Namgis 
Stan Bevan, Tahltan, Tlingit, Tsimshian  Award of Distinction 

This year’s celebration of the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art includes a series of films showcasing each awardee’s artistic accomplishments. BC Achievement thanks its media partners, BIV, CFNR, First Nations Drum, Frog Radio, Global TV and Stir Magazine for their support of the award program. The foundation is also grateful for its community partners: Crafted Vancouver and Denbigh Fine Art Services each of whom play a key role in elevating excellence and inspiring change in their support of the Fulmer Award program. 

Members of the 2021 jury include: Maynard Johnny Jr., Coast Salish/ Penelakut Tribe and 2019 awardee; Meghann O’Brien, Haida/ Kwakwaka’wakw and 2014 awardee; and Connie Watts, Associate Director, Aboriginal Programs, Emily Carr University of Art + Design and artist of Nuu-chah-nulth, Gitxsan and Kwakwaka’wakw ancestry. Brenda Crabtree, Director, Aboriginal Programs, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, a member of the Spuzzum Band with both Nlaka’pamux and Sto:lo ancestry, serves as an advisor to the jury. 

BC Achievement is an independent foundation established in 2003 to celebrate community service, arts, humanities and enterprise. For information on BC Achievement, visit www.bcachievement.com

The Fulmer Award in First Nations Art is made possible through the generous support of the Vancouver-based Fulmer Foundation. 

Detailed information about the 2021 recipients and a list of past awardees is posted on the foundation’s website at www.bcachievement.com.  

Rup Kang, Communications Director
BC Achievement Foundation  
rup@bcachievement.com | 604.261.9777 Ext 102 

2021 Fulmer Award in First Nations Art – Awardee Backgrounders  

Crystal Behn, Dene & Carrier 
Prince George
Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist

An artist of Dene and Carrier ancestry, Crystal Behn specializes in traditional and modern beadwork that is both customizable and unique. Born and raised in Treaty 8 territory, Crystal learned the art of beading, moccasin making and traditional harvesting from her grandmother. Crystal uses as many different natural materials as possible including hand smoked moose hide, moose antler, porcupine quills, glass stones, caribou hair, fish scales, birchbark and beads.

Working with these materials gives Crystal an important connection to the land and reflects her commitment to honouring the process that goes into creating the hide from hunt to finished art piece. From beaded poppies, cuffs, mukluks to shawls, her creations reflect her vision and embrace the knowledge passed down from her mother, auntie and grandmother. 

Crystal’s home-based business In Her Footsteps Authentic Dene Designs was built one bead at a time and, as an artist for Manitobah Mukluks, her pieces continue to sell out. A pair of Crystal’s beaded mukluks were part of an exhibit entitled Reconciliation at Two Rivers Gallery in 2019. Crystal has received accolades for her work including a scholarship to Island Mountain Arts, people’s choice award and chosen award at the Peace Liard Juried Art Exhibit.

Sgaanjaad Sherri Dick, Haida & Kootenay 

Sgaanjaad Sherri Dick is a traditional Chilkat and Raven’s Tail weaver, an ancient form of wool weaving that dates back over 10,000 years. Inspired by her great grandmother Isabelle Edenshaw, Sherri started weaving at the age of 25, first with spruce root and then later cedar. Sherri was introduced to wool weaving at a workshop hosted by Evelyn Vanderhoop and shortly after began a three-year apprenticeship studying with her mentor William White.  

Sherri’s work consists of blankets, leggings, aprons, headdresses, potlatch and medicine bags – all used in traditional ceremony. Her pieces have been presented at the Museum of Northern BC in Prince Rupert, Bill Reid Art Gallery in Vancouver and Haida Heritage Museum in Skidegate. Sherri was commissioned to produce a full regalia mannequin in pounded cedar and Raven’s Tail which is on permanent display at the Haida Heritage Museum. 

In addition to Chilkat, Raven’s Tail, and cedar weaving, Sherri practices beadwork, fan making, applique button blankets, and ceremonial medicine. Sherri shares her knowledge with students, nurturing and cultivating their talents, and encouraging them to become major producers of Haida traditional regalia.

James Harry, Squamish & ‘Namgis 
West Vancouver 

James Nexw’Kalus-Xwalacktun Harry is of Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) and European decent (Scottish, and German). James’ work stands on the foundation of his experience growing up as a member of the Squamish Nation and reflects his multifaceted identity.

In secondary school, James began his career as an artist by carving the doors of the BC Aboriginal Sports Hall of Fame. He later attended Emily Carr University of Art and Design, obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 2014. The YVR Art Foundation honoured James with the Career Artist Scholarship in 2011 and resulted in “From Sea to Sky”, a 6’ high aluminum totem pole that emits LED lights through Coast Salish iconography cut by water jet. By combining the use of modern tools, materials and techniques, James integrates the traditional with the contemporary. 

For the last decade, James has worked in different school districts, the City of Vancouver and non-profit agencies to produce community-based art projects reflecting Canadian heritage, culture, and ideologies. With a unique capacity for developing thematically significant work that connects all people to the ecology of place while building a greater understanding between cultures, his process brings people together, changes ideas, and leaves a legacy to remind the community that transformations can occur. 

Dean Hunt, Heiltsuk

Dean Hunt is a visual artist, traditional tattoo practitioner and music producer from the Eagle Clan of the Heiltsuk Nation, Waglisla (Bella Bella). Dean underwent a formal five-year apprenticeship with his father Bradley Hunt and older brother Shawn Hunt, where he learned the skills of Heiltsuk carving and design. Dean uses the tools and techniques his ancestors fought to hold onto through times of hardship and oppression, not only in his more traditional art practices, but also in his contemporary use of sound.  

Constantly pushing the evolution of Heiltsuk art forward, Dean is a part of the movement to modernize the art form. Dean balances innovation with his desire to stay true to the ancestors’ ways of doing things. A storyteller, Dean often depicts narrative scenes on his jewellery which is highly sought after by collectors from all over the world.  

Dean’s work has been part of notable exhibitions such as Continuum: Vision and Creativity on the Northwest Coast at Bill Reid Gallery; Shore, Forest, and Beyond: Art from the Audain Collection at the Vancouver Art Gallery; and Satellite Gallery’s Cindy Sherman Meets DzunukwaArt from the Michael & Inna O’brian Collection. In 2017, the Lattimer Gallery hosted an exhibition titled Hálúɫ (Fresh) featuring Dean and fellow Heiltsuk artist KC Hall. 

Shawn Karpes, ‘Namgis  
Alert Bay  

A member of the ‘Namgis First Nation, Shawn is a descendant of the Alfred, Hunt, Scow and Innis families. He also has blood ties to the Tlingit, Nuu-cha-nulth and Heiltsuk First Nations. Shawn’s late father, Gus (artist, musician, writer and outdoorsman) is Dutch and immigrated with his family to Canada from the Netherlands shortly after World War II.

Shawn began his training in the Victoria public school Native art program, with George Hunt Jr. and Victor Newman, both of whom are members of Shawn’s family. During this period, he was introduced to the culture and history of the Kwakwaka’wakw and other west coast First Nations. He learned design, painting and basic carving. Early in his career, Shawn had the opportunity to work under Tony Hunt Sr., Tony Hunt Jr., and John Livingston in the “Arts of the Raven” carving shed. Moving back to Alert Bay, he also learned jewellery making from Fah Ambers while continuing to study carving from Beau Dick and Wayne Alfred. Shawn has also worked with, and alongside, many of his peers and younger artists, some from other First Nations: “Good friends influence good art”.  

For five years, Shawn was part of the carving program at the Royal B.C. Museum and in 2001 volunteered to work on the ITUSTO project, restoring the world’s tallest freestanding totem pole at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria. Shawn’s desire to continuously refine his skills and knowledge is the driving force behind his art. Known for his generous spirit, Shawn has become a keeper of his First Nation’s rituals, knowledge and traditions, and is often called upon to help with community potlatches and projects. By giving back, Shawn honours those who shared their teachings with him. 

Stan Bevan, Tahltan, Tlingit, Tsimshian 
Award of Distinction for Lifetime Achievement 

Stan Bevan (b.1961) is an established Northwest Coast Artist recognized for his superbly innovative design and his impeccable attention to detail. Born in Terrace, BC, Stan was raised in the nearby village of Kitselas on the Skeena River. He is Tahltan-Tlingit through his mother’s side and her home village is Telegraph Creek, BC. His father is Tsimshian from the village of Kitselas. Stan was inspired to pursue an artistic career by his uncle, Dempsey Bob, one of the foremost master artists of this generation. 

Stan began his training at the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art at ‘Ksan in Hazelton in 1979, after which he completed an extensive apprenticeship with Dempsey. During his apprenticeship, Stan assisted Dempsey with a number of major commissions, including a 31-foot pole in Ketchikan, Alaska and a 12-foot house post in Saxman village. In 1987 after participating in the exhibit, “Hands of Creation”, he made the important decision to become a full-time artist. Since that time Stan has produced an impressive body of work and is credited with bringing about a revival of Tlingit art and design. 

In 2006, Stan was instrumental in the creation of the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art on the campus of the Northwest Community College (now Coast Mountain College) in Terrace. He has held the position of head instructor/program coordinator where he leads the program management and curriculum delivery while overseeing numerous initiatives such as a visiting artist program and creating an international educational network. Stan is part of the Bill Holm Advisory Board and has been an active board member for the YVR (Vancouver International Airport) Foundation which oversees grants for young artists completed under the mentorship of a master artist and the opportunity to have their work displayed at the airport as part of the Artist Showcase. He has served as a mentor for numerous artists who have been chosen to receive one of their grants.  

One of Stan’s most significant projects has been the design and creation of the artwork at the Kitselas Cultural and Interpretation Centre at the Kitselas Canyon National Historic site for the Kitselas Development Corporation. He has carved many totem poles for private, corporate and international sites including The Emily Carr University of Art and Design and the MACP Office Building in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stan Bevan was recognized in 2011 with the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art. 

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