Category Archives: News and Events

The Elemental Imaginings of Angela Marston

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By Perrin Grauer

Posted on March 16, 2021

The interdisciplinary artist, designer and Aboriginal Programs Coordinator at ECU pays close attention to the world around her; and it shows

Once, it happened when she cut into a salmon. Another time, it emerged while peering at the feather of a flicker she’d picked up off the ground.

For Coast Salish artist and designer Angela Marston (Statu Stsuhwum), inspiration isn’t turned up during a search. It’s arrived at through a process of paying careful attention to the world.

“The majority of the work that I do really reflects nature and the designs I see in it,” says Angela, who, as of November 2020, has been working as Aboriginal Programs Coordinator at Emily Carr University. “I was filleting a fish one time, and a design came through just from the way that I cut the fish. That’s mostly how my designs are created.”

This approach is evident in the Four Elements Healing Rattles series, one of Angela’s more widely shown bodies of work. (The set of four rattles is now part of the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Canada). Angela describes growing up on Vancouver Island as a time wholly occupied by attunement to the natural landscape.

“I spent many hours patiently waiting to see blossoms bloom, for the salamanders to come out from hiding, for the birds to fly overhead and berries to ripen,” she writes in an artist’s statement about the Healing Rattles. “I drank the rainwater off of the maple leaves, and ate the roots of ferns. I walked bare foot on pine needle trails that were soft and smooth. I swam in the rivers and the oceans. I caught trout with my brothers and took them home.”

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This vividly painted account is at once an anecdote and a glimpse of the source-code behind the Healing Rattles. It also reflects her belief that human beings and nature are connected; that the one is a part of the other.

The keen awareness Angela describes hasn’t relented in the intervening years. Rather, it has expanded to include more of the human-centric world. Some of her work reflects this shift, as well.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: elemental-imaginings-angela-marston

Meaningful Connections with Prince George Created Virtually through Material Practice

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By Perrin Grauer

Posted on March 04, 2021

Material practice kits are headed to the province’s north in support of the innovative ‘Decolonizing Healthcare’ program.

Caribou fur, porcupine quills, sinew, cedar, glass beads, and hides for drum- and rattle-making. These are just a few of the many materials carefully packed into handsome bags and arranged on nearly every flat surface at the Aboriginal Gathering Place (AGP) at Emily Carr University.

These “material practice kits,” more than 50 in total, are destined for Prince George. There, they’ll be distributed to participants in a series of upcoming virtual workshops. The workshops are part of the ongoing Decolonizing Healthcare System through Cultural Connections project.

“It’s been really interesting trying to conceptually picture teaching and making drums and rattles without being together, without being there with our actual hands to support them,” Brenda Crabtree, Director of Aboriginal Programs at ECU and Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives, says. “But we’re very connected with all the folks from the Prince George community — the elders and the Indigenous artists up there. So, this is a pilot project. Our first virtual pilot material practice workshop.”

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The Decolonizing Healthcare project aims to transform Indigenous people’s experiences in the BC healthcare system. In BC, as in Canada more broadly, Indigenous people of all ages experience far poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous people. This disparity is linked both to Canada’s colonial past and to barriers, including systemic racism, which continue to permeate its healthcare system.

Decolonizing Healthcare offers a leading-edge model for dismantling these systemic and historical barriers. The project employs Indigenous-led arts and material practice as an entry-point to encourage dialogue, relationship-building, and knowledge-sharing between Indigenous people and healthcare practitioners.

Brenda heads the project alongside Caylee Raber, Director of Emily Carr’s Health Design Lab(HDL). Decolonizing Healthcare first got the go-ahead in 2019 after receiving a Systems Change Grant from the Vancouver Foundation. It was initially slated to unfold over roughly three years. But the pandemic has forced the team to make adjustments on the run.

“It’s created challenges for us because we’re so used to the hands-on approach,” Brenda says. Conducting the material practice workshops virtually was not in the original plan, she notes.

“More than anything, we love engaging with the community. So this was new and challenging for us. But I think we rose to the occasion. We’ve been really innovative with the way we put together this programming and all the resources that go along with it.”

Full article by Perrin Grauer: meaningful-connections-with-prince-george-created-virtually-through-material-practice

‘K’ānäthät (Thinking)’ Inspires Viewers to Wonder

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By Thanh Nguyen

Posted on February 24, 2021 | Updated March 02, 2021, 11:18AM

The animated video is the latest collaboration between Cole Pauls and the City of Vancouver.

If you’ve walked by the Wilson Arts Plaza at Emily Carr in the last couple of months, chances are you’ve noticed the giant screen projecting a video of an animated landscape evolving throughout the course of a day: a smiling sun gradually giving way to a shifty-eyed moon, followed by three people having a discussion over a campfire in an unfamiliar language. There are no subtitles to satisfy your curiosity as to what is being said. Instead, Cole Pauls (BFA 2015), the artist behind the animation, entitled K’ānäthät​ (Thinking), is inviting the audience to be an active participant rather than a passive spectator. “I want you to project your own thoughts into maybe what they’re talking about and what they’re discussing throughout the middle of the night into the morning,” he says.

Premiering last October, K’ānäthät (Thinking) is a project Cole was commissioned to create by the City of Vancouver’s Public Art Program for Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s urban screen. Since its inception, the outdoor screen, which is an initiative in conjunction with the Libby Leshgold Gallery at ECU, has shown the works of Barry Doupé, Dana Claxton, and Marina Roy, making Cole the latest in an illustrious line of notable artists to have been commissioned by the city.

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After previously collaborating with the city on the artwork for a handful of utility boxes around Vancouver, Cole’s creation of K’ānäthät​ (Thinking) is a natural and inevitable progression. “I guess I developed a relationship with them [so] that they thought of me when they were inviting people to submit to this project because I believe that there were only five or six of us that were invited to pitch,” he says, adding, “And I just luckily was chosen.”

Full article by Perrin Grauer: cole-pauls-kānäthät-thinking-plays-on-ecus-outdoor-screen

Gina Adams’ ‘Broken Treaty Medallions’ Help Create ‘Change Through Awareness’

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By Perrin Grauer

Posted on February 11, 2021 | Updated February 16, 2021, 3:59PM

The porcelain works, created in collaboration with artist Annie Buchholz, draw on Gina’s ongoing Broken Treaty Quilts series.

In 2015, at the opening for her Nerman Museum solo exhibition, To Honour the Unidentified, artist Gina Adams was approached by a friend, who hung a gift around her neck — a Grover Cleveland 1885 peace treaty medallion.

“I immediately felt the weight of it,” Gina writes in a statement recounting the “life-changing” experience. Gina is descended from Ojibwa Anishinabe and Lakota peoples of Waabonaquot of White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, as well as from settler Americans.

“I felt the weight of the years that had passed since the medal was made, but most importantly, the weight of the fact that very little has changed in 135 years. The words on the back read ‘peace and friendship,’ but they are hollow. The promises of truth and honour the medals were supposed to represent were never kept.”

Peace treaty medals were given to “deserving Indians,” Gina explains, where “deserving” most often meant obeying U.S. government agents — agents representing a settler government which did not uphold the treaties it signed; forcibly removed Indigenous peoples from their ancestral territories onto reservations; and took Indigenous children from their family homes and placed them into residential schools, oftentimes never to return.



Gina, who is now an assistant professor at Emily Carr University, first became interested in the objects in 2013, after discovering photographs in the archives of the Spencer Museum in Lawrence, Kansas, depicting “chiefs of the plains” wearing the medallions. Having researched their histories in the years following, Gina drew on her Broken Treaty Quilts for inspiration.

Full article by Perrin Grauer: gina-adams-broken-treaty-medallions-help-create-change-through-awareness

In Memory: Taran Kootenhayoo


By Emily Carr University

Posted on January 15, 2021 | Updated January 15, 2021, 3:56PM

A statement from IM4 on the passing of Taran Standing Sunrise Jerry Kootenhayoo.

We at the IM4 Lab want to send our greatest condolences to all the family and friends of the late Taran Kootenhayoo.

At the start of this year, we lost a friend to many at the ECU: an incredible Indigenous artist, storyteller, a talented contributor to the film, art and theater communities.

Taran was an IM4 collaborator who moderated our first ever Indigenous Immersive Speakers Series, and a good friend and frequent artistic collaborator to our Operations Manager Colin Van Loon. IM4 is also preparing a podcast with Cheyanna Kootenhayoo hosting. The immense void left behind is present.

We want to acknowledge this loss. This extends to many communities and is felt ever so intensely by the Indigenous community here in Vancouver and across turtle island. Taran was a rising talent whose work had and will continue to inspire us. His spirit, humour and presence will have a lasting impact on all those who had the privilege to meet, work with and develop a friendship with him.

We send our loving prayers to IM4 team member Cheyanna Kootenhayoo and the Kootenhayoo family.

Rest In Power. Rest In Peace. Taran Standing Sunrise Jerry Kootenhayoo.

Marcia Guno Appointed Vice-Provost, Students

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By Emily Carr University

Posted on December 08, 2020 | Updated December 09, 2020, 3:35PM

The accomplished educator and community facilitator joins ECU with an exceptional record of supporting student empowerment.

Emily Carr University of Art + Design is pleased to announce the appointment of Marcia Guno as the university’s new Vice-Provost, Students.

Marcia is from the Nisga’a Nation. Her Nisga’a name is K’amyuuwa’a. She is Laxsgiik (Eagle) and is from the House of Minee’eskw.

For the past six years, Marcia has worked as Director of the Indigenous Student Centre at Simon Fraser University.

“As I prepare myself for the amazing new journey ahead of me at Emily Carr, I carry with me my cultural values and teachings,” she says. “I am grateful for our traditional medicines and for opportunities to get out onto the land. For me, the land is a beautiful canvas, rich with art, history, language and traditional teachings for us all.

“I think of all the people who have come before me, to help strive for more inclusion and representation of Indigenous people and people of colour at all levels of educational institutions. I look forward to joining the Emily Carr community. I look forward to being in a smaller campus community, surrounded by creativity, innovation and diversity that is rich with cultural teachings.”

Full article by Perrin Grauer:

The Unstoppable AGP Looks Back on Fall, 2020

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni, Aboriginal Gathering Place, Community Collaboration, Industry Collaboration

Posted on December 14, 2020

Connie Watts reflects on learning and community-building at the AGP throughout an extraordinary semester.

“It’s like the little engine that could,” Connie Watts, Associate Director of Aboriginal Programs at Emily Carr University, wrote to me in an email at the start of December.

Connie was reflecting on the strength of the Aboriginal Gathering Place’s programming in a year that was anything but straightforward. She and her colleagues — Brenda Crabtree, Director of Aboriginal Programs and Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives, Aboriginal Program Coordinator Angela Marston and Sydney Pickering, AGP lead researcher — have good reason to feel a kinship with the unstoppable blue locomotive that hauled an impossible weight up a mountain. The diverse range of programming the AGP managed to deliver despite the pandemic is almost unbelievable.

With recent reports that a vaccine is on its way, Connie said she and her colleagues are looking forward to a year that may see in-person gatherings once again. But, she adds, even if things stay as they’ve been the past nine months, “we will take advantage of anything we can to make sure our community is being engaged.”

With Connie’s boundless strength and optimism as our guide, let’s take a brief journey back through the AGP’s fall term.

All photos are by Connie Watts; courtesy of Connie Watts and the Aboriginal Gathering Place.

Fibreshed Workshops

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Three workshops in 2020 were held at the AGP as part of the Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship’s Fibreshed Field School initiative.

“Led by Emily Smith, Fibreshed Field School is an experiential mentorship program that investigates ecologically sensitive and economically viable methods of local textile production,” the Shumka Centre writes.

Brenda taught the first AGP Fibreshed workshop, treating participants to a lesson on cedar basket weaving (a technique which is part of Brenda’s own material practice).

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Janey Chang taught the second class — a tutorial on how to tan fish skins into supple leather. Some of Janey’s fish skins were included in the Material Practice Wellness Kits the AGP sent to students during lockdown.

Full article by Perrin Grauer:

Sydney Pickering on Tanning Hides, Rekindling Connections and Learning from the AGP’s Changemakers

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Staff, Students, Aboriginal Gathering Place, Research

Posted on December 03, 2020 | Updated December 03, 2020, 9:26AM

The Aboriginal Gathering Place provides a ‘home away from home’ for Indigenous students, says the artist and ECU student.

Sydney Pickering, artist, researcher, activist, family archivist and community advocate, whose work both defines and defies each of these titles, sits in the Aboriginal Gathering Place (AGP) midmorning on a rainy Tuesday.

The AGP is quiet, though working steadily in each of its three offices, just behind Sydney’s chair, are the women who run Aboriginal Programs and provide access to culturally specific learning for Indigenous students at Emily Carr University: Brenda Crabtree, Director of Aboriginal Programs and Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives; Connie Watts, Associate Director of Aboriginal Programs; and Angela Marston, who recently joined the team as Aboriginal Program Coordinator.

Technically a transplant from the prairies, Sydney is Vancouver Island-born, and a once-distant daughter of the Coast Mountains, now returned. Currently in the final stages of her undergraduate degree at Emily Carr, she was recently hired on as a paid researcher for the AGP. And while her work in that role has kept her plenty busy, she’s been keenly observing everyone around her.

“It’s been really humbling to see how they work and make changes happen — changes that I didn’t think were happening before,” she says of Brenda, Connie and Angela. “It’s been really eye-opening to learn from them, to just sit here, listening, watching.”

Full article by Perrin Grauer:

Lou-ann Neel Wins Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Art, Staff, Alumni, Aboriginal Gathering Place, Awards

Posted on November 26, 2020

The accomplished, multidisciplinary artist, designer and curator comes from a family of renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists.

Artist, designer, curator and community advocate Lou-ann Neel (BFA 2015) has won a Fulmer Award in First Nations Art from the BC Achievement Foundation (BCAF).

Lou-ann, who comes from a family of renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists including Charlie James, Mungo Martin, Ellen Neel and Kevin Cranmer, told Victoria News she grew up viewing creative work as something a person simply did, rather than as a calling to a life of exception.

“I just didn’t think anything I did was anything special because I’ve been surrounded by artists my whole life, and my whole thing was, I want to be as good as them. I’ve never seen myself so much as an artist,” she said.

“When I was learning to design, that’s when I realized it’s not just a great privilege to learn but it’s kind of a family obligation to continue our own family tradition.”

Lou-ann has been practicing Kwakwaka’wakw design for more than 40 years. Her practice includes working in jewelry, textiles and hides, paintings and prints, and digital applications including animation, storybook illustration and 3D printing.

“I put my work out there as a symbol and a signifier of who I am and who our people are.”


“One of Lou-ann’s first passions was carving, and she is continuing to practice the techniques she learned through an apprenticeship in wood carving with her brother, Kevin Cranmer,” the BCAF’s press release says.

Full article by Perrin Grauer:

Towards an Ecology of Place

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By Perrin Grauer | filed in Art, Faculty, Alumni, Community Collaboration

Posted on November 24, 2020 | Updated November 25, 2020, 7:26AM

DIY brush making is part of resilient material practice, says artist and ECU faculty member Mimi Gellman

A brush-making tutorial aimed at empowering locked-down visual artists has joined a broader continuum of arts teachings emphasizing material ingenuity and self-reliance, says artist and ECU associate professor Mimi Gellman.

DIY Brush Making, begun over the summer with help from ECU graduate student Yaaz Pillay, provides video and PDF tutorials for using materials of just about any kind to create brushes with unique mark-making capabilities — a vital lesson as many artists face barriers to purchasing pricey brushes from retail outlets.

“Having to rely on art supply stores doesn’t provide the opportunity to extend our abilities to problem solve, be creative and more self-reliant,” Mimi says.

“The thing that I get so excited about is how nimble we can be in the face of obstacles. At this moment, when everything seems to be closing down and we have less of the access we’re accustomed to, in what ways might we have more of a different kind of access? What possibilities are opened up?”

Full article by Perrin Grauer: