This work speaks to the real lived experience of the people of the Northwest coast and illustrates the degrading practice, not only of denying our peoples their right to celebrate life’s passages of right – but actually policing their activities to remove all remnant or possibility to be First Nations and practice the ways of our ancestors. Try as they might our people persevered and our culture lived on, evolving and changed but still existent. What hurt us built up our resilience. We were here first and we are still here and, we have no plans to abandon our commitments to the land, sea, air, or the supernatural ones – We live therefore we are!
John Powell is a visual artist and designer who lives on the K’ómoks First Nation reserve. John’s traditional name is Winidi and he is Mamalilikulla of the Kwak’wakw’wakw. In addition to his art practice, John is the elected Chairperson of the Kwakiutl District Council, which represents nine member First Nations on the northern part of Vancouver Island.
He has worked in design for the last 25 years, with a media of textiles. As well, Powell works a lot in Theatre Costume design, making clothing on a commission basis. He has also worked with The Vancouver Opera Society. In addition, John has designed a number of Graphics for various First Nations and Non-First Nations organizations. He was the Design Coordinator for the Vancouver 2010 Welcome Portion of the Olympics.
“Motivation for my Art is driven by culture. My media is generally textiles. I was schooled in Traditional Kwak’wakw’wakw design, Costume Design, Fashion Design (by commission), Interior Design, and Graphic Design. I work a lot in Theatre Costume design. I make clothing on a commission basis. I have also worked with The Vancouver Opera Society. In addition, I have designed a number of Graphics for various First Nations and Non-First Nations organizations. I was Design Coordinator for the Vancouver 2010 Welcome Portion of the Olympics.
I was fortunate to have grown up in my Kwak’wakw’wakw culture and gained much knowledge from our elders/old ones. I value this above all, and I work hard to provide opportunities for the larger non–aboriginal population to learn and and understand who we are Kwakwala-speaking people.” – John Powell