3 artists from Haida Gwaii receive $5,000 grants

Three Masset artists have received $5,000 grants to continue developing their skills, the YVR Art Foundation announced May 5.

Two types of grants are awarded each year to emerging and mid-career artists whose visual arts reflect First Nations culture in British Columbia or the Yukon, says YVR’s website.

Danielle Louise Allard and Jay Bellis were two of three province-wide recipients to receive a Mid-Career Artist Scholarship in 2022. Derek White was one of seven artists to receive a Mid-Career Artist Scholarship. studies for emerging artists. Both awards aim to help artists expand their artistic practice through mentorship, education or, for the mid-career grant, by working on a cultural project important to their community.

In Indigenous communities, knowledge has always been passed on through mentorship, but artists today need support and funding to learn from a mentor while paying the bills and surviving, Allard said.

Another benefit of the fellowship, she noted, is the ability to connect with other people and fellow artists.

While Allard was born in Masset and her mother is Haida, she says she grew up across the country. After attending a small art school in Ottawa, she lived in Toronto and Vancouver before returning to Masset.

“I’ve always been drawn to my home,” Allard says.

Currently, she is working with her mentor Christian White to learn Haida art, especially Formline.

His most recent project involves painting 40 bentwood boxes. Using the book “The Transforming Image: Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations” as a reference, Allard recreates the designs while adding his personal touch.

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

For the YVR Foundation scholarship, Allard will paint drums.

“[A few days ago] I was learning to stretch the skins on the frame,” she said. Although this step was not part of her original project plan when the opportunity presented itself, she took it and now she will have the whole process under her belt.

Allard said she remembered Christian White when she was growing up, but it wasn’t until she moved back to Masset that she reached out to him to become a mentor.

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

Allard comes from a long line of artists. She said her parents were good at the visual arts but never made a career out of it and her grandmother was a weaver.

“When I was 12, when we were home for a summer, she taught me how to weave a little spruce wood basket. I think I’m learning [weaving] would be phenomenal for me, just to carry on his legacy.

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

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