Emily Carr University of Art and Design student, Lil’wat Nation’s Levi Nelson was recently shortlisted in the IDEA art award for his entry, Anthropology.
The IDEA Art Award was established in 2009 as a collaboration between the Healing Art Committee at VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and Emily Carr University of Art and Design. The annual award allows for the purchase of an artwork by an emerging artist that will be displayed within the hospital and will become part of the permanent collection. Each year a specific area of the hospital is selected for the IDEA Art Award’s winning work.
The IDEA Art Award affords artists the opportunity to consider their work within an environment where it can make a real difference by acting not merely as a source of visual distraction but also as a source of inspiration in a difficult time. It offers emerging artists the opportunity to have an artwork in a prestigious collection while also contributing to the transformation of a vitally important site.
His entry statement shares the story behind the piece, which is a 36 x 48 inch oil on canvass.
In times of sorrow and need we look to our family, our people, and our fellow man for support. Three totem poles stand behind one another as literal pillars of strength, offering support and protection, ever reminding us that our ancestors are watching over us and those in need. From our animal brothers we gather teachings of wisdom, strength, and hope. The Bear, who has taught my people about medicinal plants, and has shown my ancestors lands where the water runs pure and the gardens of the forest are most plentiful; where berry patches and fishing holes are at their most fruitful, to him we give thanks; the Raven, who gave light to the world and has given valuable lessons through fable and regal curiosity, who offers insight and practical wisdom, we are grateful; and the Eagle, who soars high watching over us, carrying our hopes and prayers to the skies, lives as a dignified example of grace and quiet strength. The calming colours of emerald green and viridian hues, serve to soothe the viewers and passers-by, and offer strength and inspiration to every man and woman who work tirelessly to bring good health and healing to the people they serve, may they find it in my painting Anthropology. It is from the teachers who have come before us, passing down their discoveries in medicine and healing where this painting gathers its inspiration. Three ancient totem poles from Haida Gwaii stand strong, one behind the other, at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, from where I was inspired to create this work of mine. With it, it carries good medicine.
I believe art is therapeutic and possesses healing properties, helping to balance out the four elements of human nature; mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Anthropology calls up notions of the natural and the supernatural forces present in our daily lives, as a force beyond our own understanding, ever there for us when we may call on it. I found healing, strength, and medicine in the voyage of this painting from its beginning to its completion, and I hope to pass this on to all who may see it at the Joseph and Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre at Vancouver General Hospital.