Marianne Nicolson | the artist




The artist Marianne Nicolson
Born 1969, Comox, Canada.
Lives and works in Victoria, Canada.

Style and technique of the artist: Site specific art, Sydney Biennale, Installation art,


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Marianne Nicolson
Marianne Nicolson, a member of the Dzawada’enuxw Tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, first came to prominence in 1998 when she scaled a vertical rock face in Kingcome Inlet to paint a 28 × 38-foot pictograph—the first in the inlet for over sixty years—to mark the continued vitality of her ancestral village of Gwa’yi. In a similarly monumental gesture, Nicolson’s site-specific project The House of the Ghosts imaginatively transforms the Georgia Street façade of the Vancouver Art Gallery into a Northwest Coast ceremonial house…

Marianne Nicolson, review
To step into Marianne Nicolson’s installation, Bakwin-a`tsi: the Container for Souls, is to enter a hushed realm of shadows and light. It’s a spectral world in which the living and the dead, the young and the old, the enduring and the ephemeral come together in a celebration of the continuity of existence. It’s also a subtle and sinuous expression of the Kwak’waka’wakw artist’s concern for what has been lost from her culture, and of her belief in what must be reclaimed in order to sustain it…

Marianne Nicolson
My work for public art spaces are extensions on traditional Northwest Coast artistic expressions. I engage in the exploration of traditional concepts and incorporate contemporary media into the visual presentation of these concepts. While I consider that the material component of Northwest Coast cultural production is well represented in museums and commercial galleries, I fear that the conceptual foundations of this work are endangered owing to radical acculturation and language loss. Creating artworks that address these issues and express traditional concepts in new ways in public art spaces is my way of perpetuating and preserving Kwakwaka’wakw/Aboriginal culture as well as sharing those concepts with a wider audience…

Marianne Nicolson
Nicolson’s sources are iconic images from the Dzawada’enuxw culture, one of the many nations of the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples in British Columbia. Illuminating the gallery space, a light box casts shadows to suggest a place of reflection. The exhibition consists of only this light box, a glass ‘bentwood’ chest created in Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous style. The light from inside the box casts shadows of a raven, an owl and two young girls…



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