You are on Syilx Territory  features recent acquisitions from UBC Okanagan’s Public Art Collection by Sheldon Louis, Coralee Miller, David Wilson and Manuel Axel Strain.

JUNE 7 TO AUGUST 24, 2023, CCS

Land acknowledgements were just one of the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report published in 2015. UBC Okanagan’s Public Art Collection was founded in 1963 by Okanagan College, and contains over 800 works of art from outdoor public art to paintings, prints, etchings, sculptures, installations, photography, video, carvings and more. Unfortunately of the over 800 works in the collection, only 8 are by Syilx artists, less than 1% of the Public Art Collection.

David Wilson Sookinakin, Northern Lights, 2021, acrylic on canvas

Coralee Miller, Coyote Returns to Life, 2021, acrylic on canvas

The 6 paintings displayed, 3 of which are recent acquisitions funded by the BC Arts Council and Okanagan School of Education, are joined by two outdoor installations by Interior Salish artists on campus, Syilx artist Les Louis’s sn̓ilíʔtn (Story Poles) commissioned for the the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit in 2016 and For Future Matriarchs (2022) by Krista Belle Stewart (Syilx) and Tania Willard (Secpwépemc) commissioned by UBC Okanagan School of Engineering for the 14 Not Forgotten Ceremony to commemorate the École Polytechnique massacre.

Leading arts institutions around the world are prioritizing decolonizing their art collections, and embracing more inclusive art histories. UBC Okanagan’s acquisition policy was updated in 2020, to prioritize commissions and purchases from local Indigenous artists, to balance out the deficit of Syilx contemporary art in the collection.

Manuel Axel Strain, puti kʷu alaʔ (excerpt 2017-2018)m 2022, oil on canvas

Indigenizing the Public Art Collection relies on donations, and we would greatly appreciate your support, so we can build a collection that recognizes and celebrates the cultural achievements of the Interior Salish Indigenous peoples: Syilx, Nlaka’pamux, Secwépemc, Sinixt and extending to the Plateau; Stl’atl’imc, Ktunaxa, and Tsilhqot’in and Lil’wat among others.

Please donate today to help Indigenize UBC Okanagan’s Art Collection.

This exhibition is presented as part of the Indigenous Art Intensive, organized by the UBC Okanagan Gallery, and curated by Dr. Stacey Koosel.

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