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.
Marianne Nicolson is a well-known mixed media artist who utilizes painting, photography, mixed-media, sculpture, and installation to create modern depictions of traditional Kwakwaka’wakw concepts.
As an artist of Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nations descent, Marianne’s training encompasses both traditional Kwakwaka’wakw forms and culture and Western European based art practice. She has exhibited widely in Canada and throughout the world since 1992 and has been vocal on issues of Aboriginal histories and politics arising from a passionate involvement in cultural revitalization and sustainability. Her work, A Lament for National Histories, questions the status of international agreements/treaties and the land jurisdiction these agreements reflect.
Susan Point, O.C., RCA., DFA., D.Litt. (1952–) is a descendant of the Musqueam, Coast Salish peoples; she is the daughter of Edna Grant and Anthony Point. Susan inherited the beliefs of her culture and ancestral traditions of her people from her mother Edna – who learned from her mother, Mary Charlie-Grant. Susan’s distinct style has inspired a movement in Coast Salish art. She draws creativity from the stories of her ancestors and forged the use of non-traditional materials and techniques, therefore inspiring a whole new generation of artists. Susan is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has been presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Canada. She has been recognized with an Indspire Achievement Award, a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, a B.C. Creative Achievement Award, appointed lifetime member to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, was listed one of B.C’s 100 Most Influential Women, and was named one of Vancouver’s 2012 Remarkable Women. Susan has Honorary Doctorates from the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, the University of B.C. and Emily Carr University of Art and Design. In 2016, Susan was a recipient of the City of Vancouver’s Civic Merit Award.
Lou-ann Neel descends from a rich history of artists on both sides of her family. She comes from the Mamalilikulla, Ma’amtagila, and Da’naxda’xw on her mother’s side of the family and ‘Namgis, Kwickwasutaineuk, and Kwagiulth on her father’s side of the family.
Lou-ann has been practicing in Kwakwaka’wakw design for over forty years in various forms – jewellery, textiles and hides, paintings and prints, and vector designing in multiple applications including animation, storybook illustration and 3D printing.
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 serves as Curator, Indigenous Collections, and Acting Head of Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Department at the Royal BC Museum working closely with BC First Nations communities to address repatriation matters.
Kelly Robinson’s roots and family origins are in Bella Coola with descendants from both the Nuxalk and Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. As a child his curiosity in his culture was piqued and Kelly became determined to learn and refine the art — specifically the unique design forms of the Nuxalk.
Under the guidance of his uncle, noted Master carver, Alvin Mack, Kelly developed his own techniques in creation of two and three-dimensional art forms. In 2010 he graduated from the Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts program at the Native Education College in Vancouver. Immediately following graduation, Kelly began an apprenticeship with Haida artist Jim McGuire to continue his understanding of design and the twenty-first century contemporary art market. Soon after, he completed another apprenticeship with renowned Nuu-chah-nulth artist Gordon Dick.
In 2012 Kelly graduated from the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art. He continued his studies under a mentorship program with master carver Tim Paul, during which time Kelly enlightened himself with Nuu-chah-nulth stories and perfected his mask making abilities in the Nuu-chah-nulth style.
Kelly uses his art to tell stories of the Nuxalk and Nuu-chah-nulth people, their land and culture. He examines stories of the supernatural, potlatch societies, and the land and sea in his artwork. He is currently working on two lineage totem poles that will represent two of four villages within the Nuxalk Nation. “Through the art, I will begin my educational journey in recapturing the culture we once had. It is a very exciting time to be a First Nations artist in Canada.”
Image 4 – Bringer of Wealth, photo credit Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery
Image 9 – Sea Eagle Mask, photo credit Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery
A member of the Kayaahl ‘Lanaas Eagle Clan of the Haida Nation, Jaalen Edenshaw has always been surrounded by Haida art. At a young age he started studying the discipline of Haida form-line design under his father Guujaaw’s guidance and later he carved with James Hart. He has also spent countless hours in museums studying the old masters. He owes his understanding of the art to these experiences.
Jaalen is known for his carving of monumental cedars. His 35 foot “Gyaluu” pole stands in Old Massett, the 43 foot “Two Brothers Pole” carved with his brother Gwaai stands in Jasper AB, and his 45 foot “Gwaai Haanas Legacy Pole”, in Hlk’ah GawGa. He is currently putting the finishing touches on a 33 foot Haida canoe.
Haida stories and language guide his work. He delves into the old Haida stories before he carves out the narrative. He and his brother co-founded K’alts’ida K’ah (Laughing Crow), a collective to tell Haida stories and promote Haida language through art. They wrote and produced, “Sinxii Ganguu”, dramatizing an old story performed in Haida. He collaborated on several Haida stop motion animations, the latest of which won best music video of 2015 at the ImagiNative film festival and co-wrote “SGaawaay K’uuna” (Edge of the Knife), the award-winning Haida feature film of 2018.
Although Jaalen has pieces in collections and museums around the world, he considers his most important works to be the ones that stay on Haida Gwaii. He feels a great debt to his homeland and has worked to highlight the environmental importance of land and sea and the Haida way of being.
Nathan Wilson is inspired by his Haisla family history which drives him to continue to keep alive a long line of carving traditions. A graduate of the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art, Nathan extended his skills as a carver, painter and tool maker. The carvings he has worked on since are inspired by events and understanding the natural world we live in. From encounters with grizzly and black bears, mountain goats and whales, to attending feasts and totem pole raising ceremonies, these are all important in finding a deeper meaning to becoming a First Nations Artist.
Nathan was commissioned by Mount Elizabeth Secondary School to carve an eight-foot totem pole, where students could observe, participate and carve onto the pole under Nathan’s supervision at the beginning stages. He has also joined the communities of Kitamaat Village and District of Kitimat to help raise the “Palaa-Gwa-La” pole in the main entrance of another school. This was the first totem pole to be raised for either community in several decades.
Working alongside his mentors Stan Bevan, Ken McNeil and Dempsey Bob, Nathan is an instructor at his alma mater in Terrace. He continues to create masks, sculptures and relief carved panels for various galleries, as well as private commissions with various collectors.
Evelyn Vanderhoop comes from a long line of Haida weavers, including her grandmother Selina Peratrovich and her mother, Delores Churchill. She has also studied weaving with Cheryl Samuel.
An accomplished weaver in the Naaxiin (more commonly called Chilkat) tradition, Evelyn studied the origin of this technique by reading journals of the early explorers and their accounts of the first contact with the Haida as well as learning from the stories of her ancestors. She has studied the old robes in museums around the world and learned their complexities. Evelyn has mastered the art of Naaxiin technique where weaving not only moves across horizontally, but vertically as well, creating curves, slopes and circles with multiple braids enclosing the formline shapes.
Parallel careers as a weaver and watercolour artist have marked Evelyn’s success. She studied watercolour painting in Europe, and one of her paintings was chosen by the United States Postal Service as a reference for a stamp to commemorate Native American dance. Evelyn has also been chosen as an artist in residence at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
Born in 1991, Cole Speck was raised on the ‘Namgis reserve on the island of Alert Bay and has been carving since he was a teenager. Cole comes from a strong cultural and artistic heritage, which is evident in his carving. He is the great grandson of late Chief John Speck of the Tlowitsis, who was the father of the late Henry Speck Sr.
Cole’s work has immense reverence for old traditions, while pushing into contemporary realms. As a young carver, Cole apprenticed under accomplished master carvers Beau Dick and Wayne Alfred and since then, he has been consistently making his mark on the Northwest Coast art scene. Cole has assisted in the making of the Pat Alfred Memorial pole with Beau Dick and in the carving of a pole for a Northwest Coast exhibition in Holland with Rande Cook.
In 2017, Cole performed for the opening of documenta 14 in Athens, Greece where he contextualized Beau Dick’s works in the exhibition through a re-telling of the Undersea Kingdom story. In July of 2017, he participated in the exhibition in Kassel, Germany as Beau Dick’s apprentice. Cole’s work has also been exhibited at NADA Art Fair in New York and at Santander Cultural in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2018.
Cole was selected by the independent jury as the 2020 Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist.
The Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist designation was established in 2019. Named in honour of Brenda Crabtree, Director, Aboriginal Programs, Emily Carr University and the late Bill McLennan (1948-2020), Curator Emeritus, UBC Museum of Anthropology, this recognition aims to highlight and support emerging talent.