‘Explore’ – The Nature of Indigenous Art

June 21, 2021

This season we’re exploring our outdoor surroundings, opening ourselves up to the creativity nature ignites. For many Indigenous artists, nature is a prominent feature and inspiration. We caught up with some of the renowned talents we’ve spoken to in the past, plus others we’re looking forward to collaborating with in the future, to find out what they’ve been busy with and to discuss their thoughts on our theme. 

Whether employing traditional techniques or breaking them down in new and innovative ways, many of these artists are pushing boundaries. They draw from their surroundings to create breathtaking work which reflects and comments on wider social and political issues, often challenging the viewer to confront hard truths about a violent past, ongoing injustices and the way we treat our environment and each other. 


George Littlechild

Nature is something that plays a pivotal part of my life. I walk five days a week in the forest, to be part of nature, to commune, like my ancestors before me, whose every aspect of their lives were dedicated by nature. In some small way I continue to do the same, as nature feeds my mind, body, spirit & the emotional sides of who I am as a human. All my art is about healing and about telling the truth. I explore the effects of the colonial system, the government and its treatment towards Indigenous people here in Canada and around the world. Read more ->





Robert Davidson

Haida and Northwest Coast art originates from nature. Creativity stems from the inner world – it doesn’t come from outside. The last totem pole I carved is, ‘Beyond Being Silenced’. It’s a statement for us and also for the world, that we want to be part of society. We’ve been pushed down for many generations and it’s going to take us a while to create a new reality. I’d rather we adopt some of the values of our ancestors by being self-reliant and self-governing. There are many good people taking the lead now and that’s very exciting for me. Read More ->




Michelle Stoney

I think I’m inspired by nature in everything I do. I tend to design my images from nature. If we pay attention to how wonderful nature really is and explore it, our creativity takes off. I’m surrounded by nature everywhere I go. That makes me want to create all the time – I just look outside my window and see what the mountain is up to today. It’s called Stegyoden (or ‘Rocher de Boule’ in English), and it’s maybe my biggest inspiration. Read More ->

Etsy @mstoneyart https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/Mstoneyart



Sheldon Pierre Louis

For the past 10 years, a big portion of my content has been salmon. We’ve been working heavily with the United States, Canada, the Kootenay Nation, the Shuswap Nation and Okanagan Nations, to try to further the Columbia River treaty. A lot of my work is based around environmental impact, advocating for clean water, but also heavily influenced by our traditional gathering: picking berries, digging roots, and being out on the land. Read More ->




Roy Henry Vickers CM OBC

All my inspiration comes from my relationship to the natural world. Culture is born from the land. Languages are born from the environment. Today, we as modern people think that we are in control. For me, we need to go back to a love of nature, not a dominance of it but an acceptance of our part in it, because we are the land. As a descendant of the colonisers and the oppressors – as a descendant of the Indigenous peoples whose culture survived in my village, Kitkatla, on the coast, for 5,000 years – it is my responsibility as an artist to continue to tell Canada that we must remember what was done and what continues to be done to Indigenous peoples. Read More ->





Dennis J Weber

Where I live in Alberta, we have deer, moose and coyotes going by just behind our house, so nature really inspires me. It gives a sense of peace and calmness. For me, painting’s more emotional than anything, and nature opens up my creativity. I did some plein air painting up in Jasper and Whistler. It’s a lot of fun. You paint what you see and it opens you up. You feel more alive and more comfortable in yourself. Read More ->




K’wuyucun The Red Grizzly - Collaboration with Lauren Brevner

K’wuyucun The Red Grizzly – Collaboration with Lauren Brevner

James Harry

I’m very connected to nature. I draw on it to explore my inner world on a daily basis, working through materials like red or yellow cedar. I feel lucky to have that meditative process which I know not a lot of people make time for. I think that nature connects us and grounds us to who we are. We came out of nature and sometimes we forget about that in the places we live: our boxes and our houses with our nice heated rooms, electricity and all these toys. Read More ->










Lee Claremont

Our land is our mother. We honour and respect the land and are thankful to all the gifts she gives us. Our love for the land is part of our very being. Presently, I am working on a series of female figures who represent the strength and spirituality of our Indigenous peoples. I believe painting is a form of storytelling and each one of my figures has a story to tell. The bright colours and intricate patterns weave a non-verbal language that gives thought to messages from our ancestors. Our stories are an intricate part of passing on knowledge to our youth, and to help them understand the complexities of the world around them. Read More ->





Shawn Hunt  

My paintings are based on Heiltsuk history and cosmology and I describe them as neo-formline. In Northwest Coast native art you generally have a black, red and white colour palette and the black line represents the formline, which is a line that acts like a skeleton to hold all the other components in place. I play with that in new and innovative ways. Read More ->

Equinox Gallery, Vancouver 




Rande Cook

As an Indigenous person and artist, nature has been a part of our stories from our very beginnings. But not just a story – a way of life. We have recognized the energy in nature for thousands of years: it has given life to ceremony and ritual. We sing and dance to this energy. So having nature be a part of my narrative is imperative to honouring my culture, and sharing in new ways. Much of my art reflects on my culture, where forms and elements connect with the land and story. Today, my focus is to connect ecology in form, so I can share Indigenous values in a contemporary theme. Most of my time right now is spent on the land researching old growth cedar, and thinking of new ways to tell stories about trees and their importance in climate change. Read More ->





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