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CULTURE & ARTISTS - The Artists

Shirley Pollard: with several generations of carvers in her family, Shirley has had insight into the skills of carving from an early age. Although having experimented in several different media, she prefers the traditional argillite, a rock found only on Haida Gwaii/ Queen Charlotte Islands. Her works are collected internationally and portray a Haida perspective of the North West Coast Totem themes.

Nancy Dawson: Nancy is an accomplished jewellery designer/ producer and wood carver. She was born in Alert Bay on Northern Vancouver Island in September 1954. Her mother raised her in the "potlatch circle" which contributed greatly to her sound understanding of Kwaguitl art and culture. As a result, Nancy's art has become her livelihood, which she now approaches with constant enthusiasm and professionalism. Today, Nancy's work is actively sought by private collectors, museums, and galleries throughout North America.

Jim Colbourne: Jim has been carving for 20 years, following a family tradition going back at least 65 years. His whalebone carvings are made from the jawbone of a sperm whale, found in a refuse pile of a whaling station that closed down in the 1940's. His whalebone and antler carvings reflect his roots in the area of Newfoundland. Jim is of Métis roots.

Douglas (Hawkeye) Strickland: Doug lived in New Glasgow until the age of six. After arriving in Canada, he spent most of his younger years studying fine arts, ending up at CBC as Art Director designing and building sets for both television and movies. Later he changed sides of the camera and worked as an actor in the 1968 television series, "Hawkeye". His character received this name because of his keen vision for universal peace and his ability to see trouble before it arrived. During his time at the show he studied First Nations Culture and traditional artifact designs. His skills earned him commissions for set and costume designs for the film industry. Doug Strickland now operates a rediscovery studio where non-native, Métis and Status Natives work together to learn, produce and preserve the methods of handcrafting Alberta local traditional art forms and crafts.

Mark Totan: Mark is an Inuit stone carver and full time resident of Alberta, but was born and raised in the tiny Eastern Artic community of Hall Beach, Nunavut. A father of three, Mark has spent the majority of his working life as a heavy-duty mechanic in the remote Artic communities that comprised the DEW line early warning system. His ability as a carver earned him a full scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts in September 1994. A typical stone sculpture by Mark Totan is astonishingly lifelike. People, animals, and scenes from the North are characterized by the intricate attention to detail, which is the hallmark of true artisans. Mr. Totan claims this is a result of his ability to see into the rock. "I will spend hours just looking at the rock. I never know what I am going to carve ahead of time. Then… it will be just there as a bear, a walrus, or a person and I'll start on the carving."

Nokomis: Nokomis is an Ojibwa artist who resides in Calgary. She bases her paintings on her life and says, "I was born Ojibwa. I am still Ojibwa. It means I am a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. Love, anger, fear, melancholy, despair, hope, joy and whatever else are part of my day to day life as they are part of yours. I am a spiritual being, but my relationship with Manitou is no more or less significant than yours is with Jehovah, Mohammed, Buddha or Christ. My imagery is just as naïve and simple and even the colors I use are seldom complex. Each painting is a narrative about life in the bush more than fifty years ago. The message is that you've had your life and I've had mine; it's only the props that have been different."



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