Snuneymuxw artist has work featured in prestigious New York museum

Snuneymuxw artist has work featured in prestigious New York museum

A Snuneymuxw artist from Vancouver Island is getting some major exposure.

Eliot White-Hill, who’s First Nations name is Kwulasultun, has only been an artist for four years but some of his art is now on display at a prestigious museum in New York.

His public art includes a utility box wrap on Eaton Street in south Nanaimo that’s been on display since October.

His work is also throughout the City of Nanaimo’s Beban pool, where he painted murals on the walls and where banners have hung with his art since 2020.

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His local projects are impressive for an artist who now has four years under his belt, but his latest exhibition is bound to get the most attention yet.

“I was freaking out when she asked, it was just a huge honour – and you know it’s the kind of thing you dream about as an artist, getting to have a show in New York,” said Kwulasultun on Thursday.

Three of Kwulasultun’s art pieces have been put on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

“My art practice is really rooted in honouring and celebrating the stories and teachings that have been passed down,” said Kwulasultun in a video shared on the museum’s social media account.

He’s one of five contemporary Indigenous emerging artists showcased from the Pacific Northwest Coast.

“It’s a huge honour to share my work on this platform and to be acknowledged for the work that I’m doing,” he told CHEK News.

His favourite story is connected to the creation story that comes from Snuneymuxw

“About how our ancestors fell from the sky onto Te’tuxwtun, which is Mount Benson, and from there they made their way down to St’litlup, which is Departure Bay,” said Kwulasultun.

The curator of the Northwest Coast Hall at the museum says having one’s work at the American Museum of Natural History brings any artist a lot of attention.

“Eliot, I think, is a rising star and doesn’t necessarily need to be here, but this gives him a fabulous international audience. We have large numbers of visitors from all over the world,” said Peter Whiteley.

The museum expects it will have close to five million visitors this year.

Kwulasultun was amazed when he heard the exhibition’s opening in the Big Apple was going to be quieter because of the rain.

“…and that meant they expected to have 25,000 visitors go through the museum that day, and that’s more than the population of Port Alberni, where I grew up, so it’s pretty surreal.”

Kwulasultun says he never expected to get the opportunities he has had as an artist, but he wants to keep on sharing Snuneymuxw art.

Earlier this year the City of Nanaimo also unveiled a Snuneymuxw design for it’s future utility covers.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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