Acclaimed Nuxalk artist Kelly Robinson believes in giving back to his community; so much so that last week he presented the community two masks for ceremonial use at a special ceremony at Acwsalcta School.
“The dancers, the singers, the culture-keepers, I want to bring us all together in a good way,” Robinson said. “With the gift I’ve been given from the Creator, this is my way of giving back.”
Robinson explained that, for him, the art is so much more than a piece hanging on a wall. His work is meant to be lived, to be used, to be danced, to contribute to the revival of a culture.
“I grew up here, I came to this school at grade one,” he said. “I had a really strong pride of who I was through this school. I believe the community raised me, and I want to share these masks with them.”
As the Artist in Residence, Robinson has been mentoring Acwsalcta students for the past six months. He has fostered a deep connection to the youth, and praised them repeatedly for their dedication to and participation in the culture he holds so dear.
The masks and cedar work were presented to the community for the first time by Alvin Mack, Lyle Mack and Reuben Mack (Robinson’s uncle and cousins). They were danced for the first time that day and are now entrusted to Lyle and Reuben Mack for safekeeping, but are available to the whole community for ceremonial use at potlatches and other events.