Informed by Nuu-Chah-Nulth histories, legends and traditional carving techniques, contemporary artist Ha’wilh Way’anis Joshua Watts will be transforming the Victoria Arts Council’s main gallery to look like a longhouse as a way of honouring his cultural teachings while commenting on current societal topics.
Gifts From The Ancestors is the debut solo exhibition by Watts. An opening ceremony and public reception takes place September 9 from 11 am to 9 pm at 1800 Store Street in Victoria. The show runs until October 30 with a suggested donation $2 to $20.
With funding through the BC Arts Council’s Impact Grant, the Victoria Arts Council is commissioning this work for exhibition, along with an artist book created by Watts with his partner, Kwakwaka’wakw poet and activist Linnea Dick.
A collection of silkscreen prints, wood carvings and a video/installation by Watts will be featured with additional programming taking place in person and online throughout the exhibition.
Ha’wilh Way’anis Joshua Watts is a Nuu-Chah-Nulth and Coast Salish First Nations professional artist, and Cultural Carrier. He was raised in Squamish away from his ancestral territories of Port Alberni and Lake Cowichan. When he was growing up, he had little connection with his ancestral culture, but after reconnecting, he realized the importance of culture and art.
Since then, Watts has dedicated his practice toward youth development and mentorship programs and is a strong advocate for cultural revitalization among Indigenous youth and for the passing on of traditional knowledge. Watts has studied under great artists such as Ray Natraoro, Wayne Alfred, Corey Bulpitt and Linda Lindsay, as well as the late chief and master carver Beau Dick.
The gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 pm, and is wheelchair accessible. Find more information at vicartscouncil.ca.