You may see some familiar faces when you check out the new show at the Bella Coola Valley Art Gallery this month.
Significance is a two-person show featuring the work of local artists Ida Eriksen and Meghan Lewick. The women set out on a personal journey to paint portraits of local and distant Indigenous peoples important to them.
Eriksen was born on Northern coast of Denmark, and came to Canada at an early age to settle on the Central Coast of B.C. in a small fishing village called Namu. There she gained a great love for the land and seascape, especially the forests of the area.
Eriksen settled in Bella Coola in 2013 and became involved with the Bella Coola Valley Arts Council, curating local artist’s shows while also participating in both group shows and solo shows, as well in 2023 she had a solo show at the Station House Gallery in Williams Lake.
She works mainly in oils and acrylics on canvas, often using the local landscape for inspiration as well as drawing upon childhood memories for many of her latest more abstract works.
For this show, she pulled on memories of some of the people she grew up with in Namu and their significance to her in her life. Realizing that the nine portraits she had painted for the show, were all Indigenous she continued by also adding a few more of her friends from Greenland and Mexico as well as friends she made wherever she lived on the West Coast.
Eriksen said it felt important to express that these people who were often given such little significance politically and historically in the past be honoured in a way to state how important they were as human beings to one little person and that they significantly helped mold her to the being she is today.
Meghan Lewis has been painting portraits of people doing significant work toward good stewardship of the environment for some time. Her work also includes portraits of people in and around the places she lives, people she knows or knows about, who are making significant contributions to culture and way of life.
“I took part in significant and moving traditional ceremonies at my present home, Bella Coola, B.C. The return of the totem pole from the Royal BC Museum in Victoria was a remarkable act and moment to witness. The chief spoke, stating how vital is, the job of witnessing. My paintings (are) my way to witness significance.”
The show will be at the gallery all month, open Tuesday to Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.