In December, the Campbell River & District Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from the Campbell River Arts Council, announced an open artist call for a Shop Local Support Local graphic with a $1,500 award for the chosen design.
The chamber was thrilled to receive 32 submissions and announcd that the winning submission was created by local Indigenous artist Sonny Assu.
Assu (Ligwiłda’xw of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations) was raised in North Delta, B.C., over 250 km away from his ancestral home on Vancouver Island. Having been raised as your everyday average suburbanite, it wasn’t until he was eight years old that he discovered his Kwakwaka’wakw heritage. Later in life, this discovery would be the conceptual focal point that helped launch his unique art practice.
Assu explores multiple media and materials to negotiate western and Kwakwaka’wakw principles of art-making. Often autobiographical, humorous, solemn and/or political, his diverse practice deals with the realities of being Indigenous in the colonial state of Canada. Assu received his BFA from the Emily Carr University in 2002 and was honoured with the university’s distinguished alumni award, the Emily Award, in 2006. In 2017 he successfully defended his MFA thesis exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery for Concordia University.
Assu received a BC Creative Achievement Award in First Nations Art in 2011, has been named a Laureate for the Hnatyshyn Foundation’s REVEAL – Indigenous Art Awards in 2017, and is an Eiteljorg Contemporary Arts Fellowship recipient for 2021. Assu’s work has been accepted into The National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Eiteljorg Museum, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Guelph, The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Museum of Anthropology at UBC, The Seattle Art Museum, The Burke Museum, Audain Art Museum and in various other public and private collections across Canada, the United States and the UK. After living and working in Vancouver and Montreal, he has settled with his family in Campbell River.