A local Terrace artist is the runner-up of the National Indigenous Arts & Stories contest held by Historica Canada last month.
Stephanie Anderson, who is Wet’suwet’en of the Laksilyu clan, was awarded a $1,000 cash prize for her hand-carved art piece ‘Wolf and Moon’.
“I was a little bit shocked that I got it because it was such a big pool, there are so many people that were submitting so I was a little bit in awe and I was just very happy with it, it’s a really great opportunity,” says Anderson. “My main motto is if you don’t try, you’re not going to get it.”
Creating art since a young age and a graduate of the Freda Diesling art program, Anderson says her piece depicts a “rider” sitting on the head of a wolf and holding onto the moonlight. She originally designed the panel as a 2D drawing, then traced it and sanded it onto the wood using traditional bent knives she created herself.
She says she only sent a high-definition image of her carving since it’d be difficult to submit the physical work itself, as it is 16.5 by 25 inches done on raw boards of local yellow cedar — which was a first for Historica Canada, as sculptures aren’t a popular submission.
“I chose to submit one of my carvings because I’m really focused on sculptural pieces… it was one of my favourite pieces at the time and I really wanted to showcase it.”
This year’s contest received more than 950 submissions as part of National Indigenous History Month in June, making it the toughest competition in the program’s 15-year history. First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists ages six to 29 were encouraged to interpret an aspect of their culture and heritage through literary and visual arts.
The winners were then selected by a jury of notable Indigenous authors, artists and community leaders, and will also have their artwork showcased in an exhibition. Anderson says her carving will be displayed at a law firm, which she will be additionally paid for.
“It’s really neat, they’re a really large organization and partners with the government,” she says. “I get all of the same publicity [like the winner]… I just don’t get this trip [to the Governor General’s History Awards in Ottawa].”
Anderson says she’s happy to receive the $1,000 cash prize and will put it towards expanding her artistic endeavours.
“I have a jewelry line that I’m working on, so all the money from that prize will be invested right into the equipment and supplies for that… I rather spend it on something that I want, rather than something I need,” she says. “I don’t want to just spend it on groceries.”
Anderson will be contributing to the Skeena Salmon Art Festival this year and is one of the local artists painting the five new murals in Terrace this summer. She was also a recipient of the 2019 YVR Art Foundation scholarships awards and will have her work displayed at the Vancouver airport.