Marianne Nicolson


Dzawada̱’enux̱w First Nations

Artist Statement

Always the New Day Dawns or The Ressurection of T’isamgid

My work stems from a strong belief in the value of Indigenous philosophies and ways of being on the land. It is also driven by a mandate for social justice and the wellbeing of all peoples. Art, writing, performance, and academics are all platforms for the expression of these ideas. Fundamentally, it is about communication, resolution and inspiration. My inquiry questions the social and political contexts which frame the existence of my own Nation, the Dzawada‘enuxw of the Kwakwaka‘wakw peoples. Our history, both magnificent and tragic, is deeply rooted in the lands we inhabit, the Kingcome Watershed and the Broughton Archipelago. Since contact, this relationship has been threatened by outside forces and we are under duress to hold onto our traditional ways of being. My practice is an attempt to manifest these philosophies into contemporary spaces and conversations. My hope is that through this process of expression that the ideas remain alive and that others can experience their value. I do this because I believe that Indigenous worldviews can benefit all peoples, in particular, our notions of community connection to one another and to the land.

My work for public art spaces are extensions on traditional Northwest Coast artistic expressions. I engage in the exploration of traditional concepts and incorporate contemporary media into the visual presentation of these concepts. 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. Creating artworks that address these issues and express traditional concepts in new ways in public art spaces is my way of perpetuating and preserving Kwakwaka‘wakw/Aboriginal culture as well as sharing those concepts with a wider audience.

Artist Bio

Marianne Nicolson (‘tayagila’ogwa), is an artist of Scottish and Dzawada’enuxw First Nations descent. Dzawada’enuxw People are a member tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Her training as an artist encompasses both traditional Kwakwaka’wakw forms and culture and Western European based art practice. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (1996), a Masters in Fine Arts (1999), a Masters in Linguistics and Anthropology (2005), and a PhD in Linguistics and Anthropology (2013) at the University of Victoria.

She has exhibited her artwork locally, nationally, and internationally as a painter, photographer, and installation artist, has written and published numerous essays and articles, and has participated in multiple speaking engagements. Her practice engages with issues of Aboriginal histories and politics arising from a passionate involvement in cultural revitalization and sustainability.

“I do this because I believe that Indigenous worldviews can benefit all peoples, in particular, our notions of community connection to one another and to the land.” – Marianne Nicolson speaks about her work.