For the past few years Danika Naccarella’s career has been enjoying a steady upward trajectory, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The young Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw – Nuxalk artist is now the first to receive the BC Achievement Foundation’s Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist Award after it was established last year.
The annual BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art celebrate artistic excellence in traditional, contemporary or media art. This is the same foundation that awarded master carver Alvin Mack his Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, putting her in very good company.
“I feel very honoured and fortunate to receive the Crabtree McLennan award,” said Naccarella. This award is sponsored by two well-respected people in the art world, that have made an impact on my own personal art journey.”
Naccarella is no stranger to awards. She was the recipient of the YVR Art Foundation Award, a BC Arts Council Scholarship and the President’s Award at Northwest Community College. Her graduation from Acwsalcta School in Bella Coola saw her head to Terrace to begin a two-year diploma at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art where she distinguished herself as a methodical, thoughtful, and confident artist.
She continues to push the boundaries of her own comfort level and has since immersed herself in a residency with Earthline Tattoo Training in Kelowna to learn traditional hand-poke tattooing and skin-stitch techniques.
“During the Earthline Tattoo Residency we became qualified cultural tattoo practitioners, a huge focus was put onto the health and safety aspects of tattooing in a clean and healthy environment,” she explained. “We also focused on design application and cultural safety. I learned how to hand poke tattoo and skin stitch tattoo.”
She has now returned to Bella Coola to work as an art teacher at Acwsalcta School, focusing on larger scale projects with the Primary classes – Kindergarten to Grade Seven, and she has some advice to share from her growing career.
“My advice to young artists is don’t wait for an opportunity, create it. Always continue to learn and grow, keep studying and collect books, books will always be of value to your art career!” she shared. “Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, and it’s okay to copy old works of art while you’re learning. It’s the best way to learn. Strive to make each piece as best as you possibly can, even if you’re just starting out, always have high expectations of yourself and it will show in your work.”
Naccarella will head to Vancouver for the awards ceremony on November 20, but she certainly doesn’t have any plans to settle down. She continues to push herself in her own practice, making leaps into different art forms and doing more of what she loves to do.
“My future plans include continuing my tattoo practice, providing this service to as many people as I can far and near,” she said. “I want to begin branching out and working with various well-known northwest coast artists to expand my current practice into many different mediums.”