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Campbell River artist Shawn Decaire unveils n̓əmy̓ut banners at the Tidemark Theatre

Banners accompany exhibit, lecture Sept. 25
Shawn Decaire unveils n̓əmy̓ut Banners at the Tidemark Theatre in downtown Campbell River. Photo courtesy Tidemark Theatre

Campbell River artist Shawn Decaire’s work is adorning the Tidemark Theatre’s trademark pink walls as part of a partnership between the theatre and the Campbell River Arts Council.

“I’ve never thought much of myself as an artist until I was blessed with the opportunity to be one at the Walter Morgan Studio at Sybil Andrews Cottage,” Decaire, who is the artist in residence at the cottage said.

The banner is part of an accompanying art exhibit featuring his work. The exhibit is called n̓əmy̓ut: Connection to One Another and will be held on Sept. 25.

Yaxawidi (Shawn Decaire) is a member of the Laxwaxdax’w people, the southernmost tribe of the Kwakwakawakwe Nation. He was born in Campbell River in 1981. Decaire’s family was not involved with anything cultural due to the impacts of residential schools, but in 2001 he was invited by the people of Kingcome Inlet to join them on a traditional gathering of canoes.

Known as a Tribal Journey, this life changing experience took him from his village in Cape Mudge to the final landing place in Ambleside, West Vancouver. Over those two and a half weeks, Decaire was inspired in every cultural way from traditional singing to art and carving. During the journey Decaire met inspirational people who became role models to him, including the late Chief Frank Nelson, and the man who inspired him to be a traditional singer, Chief William Wasden Jr.

After returning home with all this inspiration, Decaire dedicated much time to learning the culture of his ancestors and the reasons why so much was lost. Near the end of 2002, Decaire made the greatest dedication of change in his life: he surrendered his addictions of street drugs and alcohol. He worked harder on his arts of singing, carving, and helping people. And for 20 years Decaire taught himself and learned from many great cultural teachers to become established in the cultural and artistic world.

Most of the traditional crafts Decaire creates are for ceremonies, such as potlatches and feasts. He does not sell much of his art.

He said, “It is not the value of cash you carry that makes you rich. It is the love in your heart.”

“The 2022 Walter Morgan Artist in Residence Program has been a profound process to date,” said Campbell River Arts Council Executive Director Ken Blackburn. “Our artist Shawn Decaire has been wonderful at making local connections between his personal artistic practice and his community work downtown with Kwesa Place.

“I am truly looking forward to our annual ART+EARTH Lecture this September 25 at the Tidemark Theatre, where we will explore the various community connections Shawn has developed throughout the four-month residency.”

The 2022 Art+Earth Lecture will feature a review of the connections made during the Artist in Residence Program (June to October 2022) at the Walter Morgan Studio in Willow Point. Decaire, alongside Sharon Karsten from Walk With Me and Jenelle Pasiechnik, Curator of the Campbell River Art Gallery, will explore the connections between the challenges of homelessness, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse and the various programs each organization collaborates on toward creative solutions. It will reveal much of the amazing work being done in Campbell River to address this complex set of connections.

Decaire’s new banners created for the Tidemark celebrate n̓əmy̓ut: Connection to One Another, and will hang on the front façade of the theatre until the end of October.

The Work of Shawn Decaire will be on display in the Tidemark Alcove Gallery from September 20th – October 15th, 2022. The exhibit can be viewed Tuesday through Friday from 12-4pm. Admission is free, and all are welcome.

Live stream or in person tickets for the upcoming Art+Earth Lecture: n̓əmy̓ut: Connection to One Another, can be purchased at OR 287.PINK.

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