BC Achievement Foundation

BC Achievement Foundation

October 19, 2015 15:00 ET

Outstanding BC First Nations' Artists Honoured With Awards

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 19, 2015) - Premier Christy Clark and BC Achievement Foundation Chair Keith Mitchell announced today the recipients of the 2015 BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations' Art.

"The legacy of First Nations' Art reaches back thousands of years," said Premier Clark. "Today's artists are preserving and expanding this proud tradition with works that inspire and resonate not just in British Columbia, but far beyond our borders."

Joe David, a Nuu-chah-nulth artist 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 2015 recipients chosen by the jury panel are:

  • Linda Bob, Tahltan-Tlingit (Prince Rupert)
  • Rande Cook, Kwakwaka'wakw (Victoria)
  • Ya-Ya Heit, Gitxsan (Kispiox)
  • Arlene Ness, Gitxsan (Hazelton)
  • Laura Wee Lay Laq, Tzeachten First Nation (Chilliwack)

"The Foundation is honoured to recognize the 2015 award recipients, who join an impressive list of First Nations' artists the Foundation has had the privilege of honouring over the past eight years," said Mitchell. "We thank Polygon Homes, its Chair, Michael Audain, and its President, Neil Chrystal, for their tremendous commitment and support of the BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations' Art."

The awards will be presented later this Fall at a ceremony in Vancouver.

Members of the jury panel included: world renowned carver, teacher and recipient of the Order of Canada, Dempsey Bob; Aboriginal Program Director at Emily Carr University, Brenda Crabtree; the Museum of Anthropology's Curator Emeritus, Bill McLennan; and celebrated artist, carver, and 2010 recipient of this award, Richard Sumner.

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

Backgrounder

2015 Lifetime Achievement Award for First Nations' Art

Joe David

A Nuu-chah-nulth artist, born on Meares Island, Joe David is among the most respected master artists of the Northwest Coast. After studying art at various institutions, Joe began to focus intensively on Northwest Coast art and, eventually, on the Nuu-chah-nulth style. Drawn by the spiritual essence within his culture, which directed his path in art-making, Joe deftly applies his creative skills to multiple mediums including wood, bronze, paper and metals. Today, Joe's work is represented in museums and private collections, locally, nationally and internationally - he continues to lecture on Northwest Coast art and enthusiastically participate in contemporary ceremonies.

2015 BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations' Art

Linda Bob, Prince Rupert

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.

Rande Cook, Victoria

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, Kispiox

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, Hazelton

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, Chilliwack

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.

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

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