... back to Made by Women: NWC First Nation Art

In many First Nations, knowledge and rank are passed down matrilineally, making the role of women essential in preserving and transmitting cultural traditions. Through their art, these women artists explore and express their cultural identities, their relationship to the land, and the history and stories of their ancestors.

"It's really a colonial idea that our women didn't carve. Our women have always carved," Lou-ann Neel, advising curator for the 2017 exhibition of her late grandmother's work titled “Ellen Neel: The First Woman Totem Pole Carver” at the University of Victoria's Legacy Art Gallery Downtown said at the opening, that commemorated the 50th anniversary of her passing in 1966. In the same year, Susan Point's extensive solo exhibition “Susan Point: Spindle Whorl” opened at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Iconic Haida carver Freda Diesing, mentor to master carvers Dempsey Bob and Don Yeomans among others, has a school of Northwest Coast Art in Terrace, BC, named in her honour.

In this collection, we hold two exceptional Nuu Chah Nulth baskets made by the late Francis Williams, a dynamic Moon Spirit by Tahtan Tlingit artist Dale Campbell from 1994 and we feature prints by renowned artist Susan A. Point and matriarch Jane Kwatleemaht Marston.  Incredibly talented mid career Haida carver Cori Savard has created two outstanding works, a yellow cedar panel called One Who Observes the Clouds and an Octopus mask titled Naaw Naaw, It’s a Nuu Piece.  Emerging artist, Alyson Bell carved a delightful Frog Spoon and a Moon Mask that has wonderfully round face and double chin, while Joslyn Williams carved a spectacular Eagles in Flight Paddle.

We are excited to include three artists new to the gallery who have created magnificent original graphic works for this exhibition; a characteristically humorous painting on paper by Alison Bremner, three colourful abstracted ovoid paintings by Krystle Silverfox and a drawing by Shoshannah Greene that seems to glow from within.

We also feature two bead work artists from the Yukon who excel at this art form. Heather Dickson has created an incredible suite of beaded jewelry featuring plants that have either medicinal or health benefits, as she learned from her grandmother and Kaylyn Baker created dynamic floral pieces that vibrate with intensity.

We applaud these and the many other incredibly talented women artists working today and know that we have only begun to see the important power and beauty they bring to the art world.

We invite you to join us in supporting and amplifying the voices of women artists in the ongoing legacy of Indigenous art.