Nuxalk and Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xm artist Danika Saunders has been awarded a 2022 YVR Art Foundation emerging artist scholarship.
The 24-year-old said she will work with Northwest Coast artist Robert Davidson, learning how to paint on regalia.
“My husband, Sesyaz Saunders, worked with Robert before. I was tagging along so I asked Robert if he would work with me and he agreed,” she said.
The plan is for Saunders to paint a woven toddler-sized cedar hat that she has commissioned Haida artist Marlene Liddle to make for her.
“I also want to paint a drum, apron and rattle to go with it. I was inspired to have regalia for toddlers for our family by my infant nephew.”
Saunders sees the scholarship opportunity as a way to acquire a new skill.
In June she will meet with Davidson to brainstorm design ideas.
She has to complete the work by April 2023 for display at Vancouver International Airport.
Born in Vancouver she lived there the first 10 years of her life, but then moved to the Bella Coola Valley where her mom, Rita Svisdahl, is from.
While she was a student at Acwsalcta School she took art classes and learned Nuxalk art. After graduation she attended the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art in Terrace for two years studying under Dempsey Bob, Stan Bevan and Ken McNeil, where she graduated in 2016.
Today she works as a teaching assistant and cultural assistant at Acwsalcta School.
Aside from carving, she does hand-poke and skin stitch tattoos.
She also studied with Ts’msyen artist Morgan Asoyuf.
“I learned mostly to make 3D hollow-built jewelry,” Saunders said of working with Asoyuf.
Saunders enjoys doing digital drawing and does commissions for logos, website and personal designs.
“It’s open-ended,” she said of the possibilities with the digital medium.
Other recipients of the scholarship are Randall Bear Barnetson, Violet Gatensby, Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob, Derek White, Ella White and Eliot White-Hall, Kwulasultun.