Explore Indigenous Art – Michelle StoneyJune 21, 2021
I think I’m inspired by nature in everything I do. I tend to design my images from nature. I have a Sasquatch one I recently finished, and I just love making trees. I know that sounds simple, but I’m fascinated by the movement in them and how I’m able to hide some hidden images within them. When we notice what we have around us, we unleash our inner creativity. If we pay attention to how wonderful nature really is and explore it, our creativity takes off.
My brother and I have also used rocks and driftwood to make large scale art pieces that only last until the river washes them away.
I’m an Emily Carr graduate and come from a family of Gitxsan artists. My grandpa, Victor Mowatt, was a master carver and my granny’s brother is Earl Muldow, a world-renowned sculptor and jeweler. Growing up, I was surrounded by other internationally-acclaimed artists: Walter Harris, Phil Janzé and Arlene Ness, and now I’m part of the new generation. My art is a take on traditional formline but I add my own touch to it, hopefully influencing the next group of artists coming up.
My community is a big reason I’ve been so successful. I feel so supported in what I do and I think that’s had a huge impact on me being able to be an artist. I’m also located in beautiful Hazelton, BC, so 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.
Stegyoden connects the five local communities. Depending on where you are there’s a different viewpoint, so it provides lots of opportunities to paint. I was always told there were specific animals and figures that people could see. It changes throughout the seasons and even throughout the day with the shadows. Some people like my mom just have the eye for it, and they really tried hard to point it out to me but I was never able to see it. When I returned from Emily Carr I began painting my mountain series, where I get to add my own images to the range, maybe hiding the figures a bit. It’s very interesting to see whether people can find what I paint in there. Sometimes what’s even more interesting is when they see something that I didn’t even mean to paint, like an animal or a face. I’ll probably end up painting the mountain for as long as I’m doing art. I even add it to my jewellry now – it’s kind of my signature.
Since we last spoke I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve recently had the opportunity to have one of my designs put on the side of a BC North bus, so that is exciting. I’ve also been working on more work for my Etsy store and I’m waiting on Sasquatch merch. On top of that, I’ve been busy selling orange shirts with my hand design for residential school survivors. A portion of the proceeds I’ve been donating to locals in my community.
My brother Alex Stoney and I have been creating some collaborations, both in prints and public art, which have been featured on CBC.
Etsy @mstoneyart – https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/Mstoneyart