Like one of his elk-hide drums painted in colourful pictograph-like fashion, David Wilson’s art has come full circle.
The Syilx artist and Okanagan band member has been sharing his heritage and culture with this area for the past decade, and he is now being recognized provincially for telling the story of the Okanagan people through his art.
Wilson is one of five artists recognized by the provincial government with the 2012 B.C. Creative Achievement Award for First Nations Art, a juried competition celebrating artistic excellence in traditional, contemporary or media art.
Although he has known for a while about the award, the official announcement was made Friday by B.C. Premier Christy Clark and British Columbia Achievement Foundation chairperson Keith Mitchell.
“I was very happy,” said Wilson, when asked how he felt about the news. “The recognition helps as it’s around the province; it’s good promotion for me.”
Born and raised in Vernon, Wilson developed his artistic talent while in Vancouver, where he went to take business courses at Langara College at the age 19.
After exploring West Coast and Plains First Nations’ art forms, Wilson returned to Vernon and started to draw inspiration from the art and stories of his ancestors told through pictographs of the Interior Salish people.
From that he developed his own unique style, combining vibrant colours and linear forms within a circular picture format, mostly on drum skins made of deer and elk hide.
Wilson’s work has since been shown at contemporary and public art galleries throughout the Okanagan, and he has received commissions from the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre and the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation.
“The pictographs are still evident in my latest work. I put all the shapes together; the trees and water are behind my style. This is a very unique area, and my work is a unique way of showing it,” he said.
Wilson’s latest solo exhibition, We Are the People of the Heart, is currently on view at the Vernon Public Art Gallery until Nov. 1. The artist has also just finished a large acrylic on canvas inspired by a 27-foot canoe that students at Clarence Fulton Secondary School are building and that he has been asked to paint.
He is thinking of entering the painting into Kelowna’s Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art for their annual members show.
But first, Wilson will meet the premier to receive his B.C. Creative Achievement Award at a ceremony to be held on Nov. 19 in Vancouver.
The five juried award recipients will also each receive $5,000 and the seal of the British Columbia Creative Achievement Award for First Nations’ Art
See http://www.bcachievement.com/firstnationsart/recipients.php for more information.