Aboriginal artists to be featured at games venues

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An airy stream of metal salmon shimmering overhead, five intricately carved spindle whorls inspired by curling rocks and three long-limbed wolves howling in unison on the Prairies are among the artworks by more than 90 Aboriginal artists that will be on display at the 2010 Winter Games venues as part of the Vancouver 2010 Venues’ Aboriginal Art Program.


aboriginal-artThe names of the Aboriginal artists taking part in the program were announced today by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) in partnership with the Four Host First Nations.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists participating in the program are from every province and territory in Canada.

“These works of art by some of Canada’s most established and up-and-coming Aboriginal artists will be front and centre in our 15 Olympic and Paralympic venues and will remain there as a permanent legacy of the Games beyond 2010,” said Dan Doyle, VANOC’s executive vice president responsible for Aboriginal participation. “In some cases, these beautiful artworks are seamlessly integrated into the structure of the venue itself.”

The variety of artwork is immense with textiles, copper, steel, concrete, yellow cedar, glass and caribou tufting among the mediums used and the subject matter featuring Aboriginal symbols such as the raven, bear, salmon, sun and canoe in traditional and contemporary styles.

In addition to leaving a physical legacy of artwork, the program is helping create an educational and cultural legacy by pairing established artists with several at-risk young people in urban and rural areas from across Canada to create three original sculptures for showcasing in 2010.

“Mentors, such as Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, are opening up a new world of opportunity for inner-city Aboriginal youth,” said Tewanee Joseph, chief executive officer of the Four Host First Nations. “This type of programming allows us to celebrate the strength and innovation of our youth.”

More than 140 individual pieces of original artwork will be produced as part of the more than $2-million Venues’ Aboriginal Art Program, with over 40 becoming part of the Games permanent legacy at the venues. Sixteen works will be chosen for display at prime locations in venues such as the Pacific Coliseum and the Olympic and Paralympic Villages in Whistler and Vancouver.

“This program offers an unprecedented opportunity to create a once-in-a-lifetime contemporary collection of art from First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples for all the world to marvel at and enjoy during Canada’s Games in 2010,” said Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. “Through these more than 90 sculptors, tufters, weavers and painters, we’re celebrating the rich cultural diversity of our country and honouring Aboriginal peoples across Canada.”

“Canada is experiencing a renaissance in Aboriginal art from First Nations, Inuit and Métis and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will showcase this incredible talent to the world,” said BC Premier Gordon Campbell. “Their works will inspire everyone – from the world’s best athletes to visitors alike – as they act as a permanent cultural and artistic legacy of the Games.”

The Aboriginal works of art displayed in the venues will also be featured in O Siyam: Celebrating Aboriginal Art through the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, published by John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd. The full-colour coffee-table book will be available in stores this fall.

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