Alumni Indigenous Artists’ Work on Display at View Gallery
Show explores identity of three major Indigenous language groups on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island University is pleased to host TimberWest’s First Nation Cultural Art Showcase Program at the View Gallery on the Nanaimo campus in building 330. The program recognizes and supports three First Nation artists representing their major language group on Vancouver Island. The artists were commissioned to design, create and showcase their cultural art work at the seven-week show titled Identity: Art as Life, which starts September 14, 2017.
The artists are: VIU alumnus Curtis Wilson from Wei Wai Kum in the Kwakwaka’wakw territory, Richard Thomas from Snuneymuxw in the Coast Salish territory, and VIU alumnus Vince Smith of the Ehattesaht tribe in the Nuu-chah-nulth territory.
Curtis Wilson graduated from VIU with a Bachelor of Arts, major in First Nation Studies with a minor in Canadian history, which supported his exploration of and dedication to his culture.
“I am honoured that I was selected to represent the Kwakwaka’wakw territory, and I am excited to showcase my catalogue of work at my alma mater,” says Curtis Wilson, artist. “My motto is the belief that every day is a learning experience and we must do our best to pass on our cultural knowledge to future generations. This opportunity is one avenue to accomplish that goal.”
Richard Thomas is from the Snuneymuxw First Nation – the territory upon which VIU’s Nanaimo campus sits. “Knowing that my catalogue of work will be shown at VIU, and thousands of students will interact with my heritage and culture, makes me proud,” says Richard Thomas, artist. “There is no better way to start a dialogue or to understand another point of view than through art.”
Vince Smith graduated from VIU in the 1970s. During his time at the institution he studied art and won awards recognizing his talents. “My art tells a story, and I want to share that story with the people across Vancouver Island,” says Smith. “I honed my skills at VIU years ago, and when I was a young artist it meant a great deal to interact with a First Nation artist and understand their point of view. My mentors were Tim Paul of Hesquiaht and Ron Hamilton of Hupetchasaht. I hope I can be that for some of the students there now.”
This showcase is part of a long relationship TimberWest has with Indigenous peoples on Vancouver Island. “We are pleased to shine a spotlight on these remarkable artists, and provide the public with a viewing experience that will tell a story about Vancouver Island’s First Nation culture.” says Jeff Zweig, President and CEO of TimberWest. “We look forward to the opening event at VIU.”
The showcase fits with VIU’s mandate to support and build strong relationships with indigenous communities. “VIU is a values-based institution and one of our values is building positive, reciprocal relationships with First Nations,” said Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor. “This exhibition not only fosters those important relationships, but it displays the work of two of our alumni. We are very proud of them and pleased we are able to welcome them back to our Nanaimo campus and showcase their work.”
To learn more about the artists:
Curtis Wilson: curtiswilson.ca
Richard Thomas: ihosgallery.com/collections/richard-thomas/plaques
Vince Smith: www.awatinart.com/index.php?route=stories/show&story_id=5