Indigenous artists (L-R) (top) Jaalen Edenshaw, Kelly Robinson, Lou-Ann Neel, Nathan Wilson, Evelyn Vanderhoop and Cole Speck have been recipients of this year's Fulmer Award in First Nations Art. (BC Achievement Foundation photos)

Nuxalk’s Kelly Robinson among six B.C. Indigenous artists recognized with Fulmer Award

Artists celebrated for artistic excellence

Bella Coola resident Kelly Robinson says it is his culture that fuels his passion of making art.

With descendants from the Nuxalk and Nuu-chah-nulth Nations, the 2020 Fulmer Award in First Nations Art recipient tells the stories of those of his ancestors on B.C’s northwest coast through art such as jewellery, face masks and totem poles.

“You could read a book or watch a movie but you’ll never get the same feeling as a relative who is emotionally well within the present place of where you are and telling those stories with heart and with joy in their voice,” Robinson said.

“You’ll never get a feeling quite like it, and those stories are really based off of life, they’re based off of nature, and they’re so connected with everything.”

Under the guidance of his uncle, noted master carver Alvin Mack, Robinson developed his own techniques in creation of two and three dimensional art forms, the B.C. Achievement Foundation (BCAF) noted.

He graduated in 2010 from the Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts program at the Native Education College in Vancouver, and two years later from the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art.

“I’m very proud,” Robinson said of being a 2020 Fulmer Award First Nations Art recipient.

“There’s a lot of really prestigious honourable artists that have won it in the past, and now that I’ve won it I’m really grateful.”

Awarded since 2006, the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art celebrates artistic excellence in both traditional and contemporary art by Indigenous artists across B.C.

Robinson is currently working on completing a second totem pole carved from red cedar for Nuxalk Nation’s Big House to be located on Tonquin Road. After having received a grant through the BC Arts Council, Robinson also hopes to complete a panel for Acwsalcta School which will represent the past, present and future through a raven, killer whale and eagle.

Joining Robinson as a 2020 Fulmer Award recipient are Haida Nation member and cedar carver Jaalen Edenshaw of Masset, Kwakwaka’wakw artist Lou-Ann Neel of Victoria and Haisla artist and carver Nathan Wilson of Terrace.

Receiving an Award of Distinction is Haida weaver Evelyn Vanderhoop of Masset. The Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist Award went to 29-year-old Kwakwaka’wakw carver Cole Speck of Campbell River.

Each awardee will be celebrated through short online documentaries in November.

“Their work both respects deep traditions and shimmers with the new,” stated BCAF chair Anne Giardini.

“This year’s awardees join eighty artists from the Award’s past fourteen years.”

Read More: Vancouver Island Indigenous artist takes unique approach to COVID-19 masks


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