Alvin Mack holding one of the pieces he will be displaying at the Xi Xanya Dzam exhibition at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art

Bill Reid Gallery hosts Xi Xanya Dzam exhibit featuring Nuxalk artist Alvin Mack

Xi Xanya Dzam features work by 11 recipients of the BC Lifetime Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art

Decades ago Alvin Mack had but one wish for his art: to have it displayed alongside one of his idols, famed Haida artist Bill Reid.

“I remember one night, about 20 years ago now, I was hanging out with my cousin and he asked me what my goals were in regards to my art,” he shared. “I told him I wanted to have my art displayed alongside Bill Reid’s. He laughed at me, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I never forgot it.”

Years later Mack received a call from a gallery up north, who had purchased one of his masks.

“I asked them to send me a picture of it displayed in the gallery,” he remembers. “They sent me a photo and there it was, my mask hanging right next to a piece by Bill Reid.”

He was on cloud nine. So happy, he explained, that he lost a bit of direction. After having reached such a lofty goal: what next?

“I firmly believe that when one door closes, another one opens,” he said. “So I reached that goal, now what? It may seem like all these difficulties we face in life aren’t adding up too much but when you get there, you can look back and see how much the work counts. There are no limits to how far you can go.”

Mack is a humble man, but the truth of the matter is that he is increasingly being recognized as one of the top northwest coast artists in the world. This latest exhibit, entitled Xi Xanya Dzam, features work by 11 recipients of the BC Lifetime Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art (2007 – 2016) and highlights how different nations celebrate excellence.

Mack received the BC Lifetime Creative Achievement Award in 2014. Previous recipients include mentor to many Nuxalk Freda Diesing students, Tahltan/Tlingit artist Dempsey Bob and Musqueam artist Susan Point, who is currently featured at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Since being informed of the show, he has been holed up in his carving shed “cleaning up” the four pieces he will be bringing to Vancouver. He shows me a miniature totem pole he has been working on, unwrapping the lower half to reveal the finished product.

The piece is so flawless it looks as though it has been thoroughly sanded, but that is just an illusion created by a steady hand, hours of patient practice and meticulous work that stretches through the night into the early morning hours.

“See here,” he says as he points to a section of a mouth on the pole, about an inch wide. “I spent an hour just making sure that section was cleaned out and the lines were even.”

Xi Xanya Dzam (pronounced hee hun ya zam) is the Kwak’wala word describing incredibly talented and gifted people who create works of art. The exhibition is both a showcase and a critical exploration of ‘achievement’ and ‘excellence’ in traditional and contemporary First Nations art.

The works by these accomplished artists have been featured together in one show for the first time ever. This diverse presentation includes traditional masks, carvings, baskets and moosehide, as well as contemporary prints, sculptures and jewelry. It is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the rich, sophisticated and complex arts and cultural histories of BC First Nations.

Featured artists include Dempsey Bob, Tahltan, Tlingit, Robert Davidson, Haida, Mary Michell, Carrier, Earl Muldon, Gitxsan, Rena Point Bolton, Sto:lo, Primrose Adams, Haida, Norman Tait, Nisga’a, Mandy Brown, Nlaka’pamux, Alvin Mack, Nuxalk, Joe David, Nuu-cha-nulth, and Susan A. Point, Musqueam

The show runs from April 5 – September 4, 2017 at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, 639 Hornby Street, Vancouver.

 

Just Posted

Delay more determined than ever after strongman nationals

He said every single lift was a personal record for him at the event

Bella Coola enjoys successful 2019 tourism season

The addition of the Northern Sea Wolf saw a big boost in this year’s tourism numbers

CCRD attends annual UBCM conference

Ocean Falls, health care, and transportation all brought forth

Terrace Search and Rescue headquarters gets $100K boost from Prince Rupert Port Authority

Investment to help grow regional response capacity in Northwest B.C.

Northern Sea Wolf Wednesday sailing delayed

Adverse weather will lead to a late night arrival for passengers

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

B.C. principal suspended for failing to help student who reported inappropriate touching

Principal didn’t remove student from the teacher’s class nor call the parents within a reasonable time

Most Read