Old Massett artist Christian White has been named a recipient of the BC Creative Achievement Award for Aboriginal Art, a province-wide honour bestowed on six artists for the first time this year.
The award, which will be presented to him at a ceremony in Vancouver on June 5, comes with a prize of $5,000.
Mr. White said the money will help him with projects he has in mind for the coming year, many of which include mentoring young carvers in the field.
He explained how so often an artist lives hand to mouth and even when he sells a piece, he often puts the money received back into creating a new piece of art.
“When we get recognized it really helps out,” he said.
His involvement in many community projects in Old Massett has taken him away from his art work over the past year, but he has big plans for the future.
The award has re-inspired him, but he also went on another inspirational trip recently.
Mr. White was invited to the grand reopening of the Seattle Art Museum, with its new $200 million downtown expansion, and said he is now “brimming with possibility.”
The new building holds a massive collection including sculpture, modern installation pieces, African masks, art deco and more. Mr. White said it was incredible to see his work featured alongside so many artists including his ancestors Charles and Isabella Edenshaw. He was also inspired by the Asian art collection, which fills the old museum space and the possibilities of using Haida forms in a modern way, as young Sonny Assu, an artist from the Cape Mudge band has done.
He was even lucky enough to be featured in a photograph on the front page of the Seattle Times admiring a bigger-than-life mural of an eight-year-old boy.
His interactions at the opening and with other artists are leading to collaborative works, like his design on glass with Tlingit artist Preston Singletary.
Next month Mr. White will head to the Big Islands of Hawaii to meet with a group of Pacific Rim artists he has been working with over the years.
He is also planning to have his longhouse open to the public this summer with lots of work and apprenticeship training going on at home.
The other artists honoured with the BC Creative Achievement awards were Barbara Marchand, Okanagan Nation; Marianne Nicolson, Dzawada’enuxw; Chester Patrick, Gitxsan; Susan Point, Coast Salish; and William White, Tsimshian.
Haida Gwaii Museum curator Nika Collison was one of the five jury members who chose this year’s recipients.
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