3 Haida Gwaii artists receive $5,000 scholarships

By Kaitlyn Bailey

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Three Masset artists received $5,000 scholarships to continue to develop their skills, the YVR Art Foundation announced on May 5.

Two types of scholarships are awarded annually for emerging and mid-career artists whose visual art reflects B.C. or Yukon First

Nations culture, the YVR website states.

Danielle Louise Allard and Jay Bellis were two of three recipients province-wide to receive a Mid-Career Artist Scholarship in 2022. Derek White was one of seven artists that received an Emerging Artist Scholarship. Both awards intend to support artists in extending their art practice through mentorship, education or, for the mid-career scholarship, by working on a cultural project that is significant to their community.

In Indigenous communities, knowledge has always been passed down through mentorship, but in this day and age, artists need support and funding to learn from a mentor while still paying the bills and surviving, Allard said.

Another benefit of the scholarship she noted is the opportunity to connect with other people and other artists.

While Allard was born in Masset, and her mother is Haida, she said she grew up all over the country. After attending a small fine arts school in Ottawa, she lived in Toronto and Vancouver before returning to Masset.

“I was always just drawn to my home,” Allard says.

Currently, she is working with mentor Christian White learning Haida art, specifically formline.

Her most recent project is painting 40 bentwood boxes. Using “The Transforming Image: Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations’ book as a reference, Allard is recreating the designs while adding her personal touch.

“It’s just really taking the traditional classic designs and trying to incorporate it into a more contemporary look,” she said.

For the YVR Foundation Scholarship, Allard is going to be painting drums.

“A few days ago  I was learning how to stretch the hides over the frame,” she said. While this step was not part of her original project plan when the opportunity presented itself, she took it and now she will have the entire process under her belt.

Allard said she remembers Christian White from when she was growing up, but it was not until she returned to Masset to live that she reached out to him about being a mentor.

“I just messaged him one day on Facebook and said, `I’m planning on moving home, and I’m looking for an artist to work with, and I was wondering if you could take me on or if you have any projects upcoming.’ We went back and forth a little bit, but eventually he just started getting me to come and do a bunch of drawings for him.”

Allard comes from a long line of artists. She said her parents are talented with visual art but never followed it as a career, and her grandmother was a weaver.

“When I was 12, when we were home for a summer, she taught me how to weave a small spruce wood basket. I think learning  weaving  would be phenomenal for me, just to kind of carry on her legacy.”

“I think it’s important to embrace the traditional ways of every kind of culture in the world. So me being a part of this culture has really enriched my life I think. I hope to maybe facilitate that in future generations or young children,” Allard said.

 Kaitlyn Bailey  is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the  PRINCE RUPERT NORTHERN VIEW. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI government funding.

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