First Nations art front and center at this year’s Yukon Permanent Art Collection reveal

Five First Nations artists’ work has been added to the Yukon Permanent Art Collection which aims to catalog significant art works.

A handful of First Nations artists from Yukon have had their work selected for the prestigious Yukon Permanent Art Collection (YPAC).

Sixteen new pieces submitted by eight artists, five of who are First Nations, were added to the collection during this year’s annual call for submissions.

The pieces will join over 500 works in the collection by 275 artists. YPAC’s overall aim is to showcase artists and works that are significant to the territory’s art legacy.

The Yukon government, which maintains and funds the collection, held an opening reception on Nov. 17 at its main administration building in Whitehorse for Dis Orientation, a new exhibit featuring the recent acquisitions.

The name of the exhibit comes from the pleasant feeling of disorientation and escape spectators may feel when viewing the pieces.

Jared Kane, a Ta’an Kwäch’än Council citizen whose panel carving Raven and Creek Mother was among the acquisitions and is featured in Dis Orientation, said he’s thrilled his work was chosen.

“I feel great, to be honest. I’m grateful. It’s my first piece (to be selected),” he said. “I’m noticing a lot of people are stopping and that’s exactly what I want. I want them to stop and see our pieces.”

Other new First Nations acquisitions in the collection include five illustrations by Tahltan comic artist Cole Pauls from his graphic novel Dakwäkãda Warriors and tth’í’ yáw nan (thread beads land), a mixed media piece by Northern Tutchone artist Krystle Silverfox.

Calvin Morberg, a Tlingit artist whose carving The Eagle’s Feast was also selected, said he’s hopeful his work and the collection’s platform will help raise awareness about declining Yukon River Chinook salmon.

“I strongly feel that we as artists need to continue to push these issues front and center through our work,” he said.

Garnet Muething, art curator for the department of tourism and culture, said First Nations art has been a staple of the collection since the collection’s inception in 1981.

“The collection is meant to reflect artist practice across the Yukon, so that means in every genre and every community.

Obviously, that means First Nations art is a huge component of that and it’s also a reflection of the artistic and cultural traditions that are so long-standing here and foster such an amazing arts community,” she said.

In the coming months the exhibition will be rotated through public buildings across the territory rather than a conventional gallery so visitors from throughout Yukon will get a chance to view the pieces.

The reason we do that is (because) art is part of people’s everyday lives here, so people are encountering it and enjoying it as part of their everyday happenings,” Muething said.

This year’s exhibit will be on display on until the spring of 2023. Selections were made from 88 submissions by 40 artists.

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