“While I consider that the material component of Northwest Coast cultural production is well represented in museums and commercial galleries, I fear that the conceptual foundations of this work are endangered owing to radical acculturation and language loss.”
Comox-born Marianne Nicholson is a member of the Dzawada'enuxw Tribe of the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nations. Raised in Vancouver, she was not exposed to her Kwakwaka'wakw heritage until age ten; however, it was this connection with the language, customs, and rituals of her culture that propelled her art. In the early 1990s, while completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, she apprenticed under master carver Wayne Alfred, focusing on traditional Kwakwaka'wakw design. She then went on to obtain a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria, and is currently completing an Interdisciplinary PhD in Linguistics and Anthropology. Her art and studies work together in an attempt to preserve the “conceptual foundations” of traditional Northwest Coast culture in a way that is also accessible in a wider, contemporary society. Her art has been shown both nationally and internationally, including at the National Indian Art Centre, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Jordan National Gallery, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.