An Inside Look at the Work of Kwagiulth Artist Carey Newman

My name is Carey Newman; my traditional name is Hayalthkin’ geme. On my father’s side, through my grandmother, I am Coast Salish from Cheam of the Sto:lo Nation, along the upper Fraser Valley.

Through my grandfather, I descend from the Kukwekum, Giksam and Wawalabei’i Namima of the Kwakwaka’ wakw Nation on Northern Vancouver Island. On my mother’s side, I am English, Irish and Scottish.

I grew up knowing that one half of my family benefitted from the same colonial structures that harmed the other half. I was home or free schooled until post-secondary.

Music and art lessons, building furniture with my grandfather, constructing a four-storey tree house, sports, reading books and playing with numbers, watching my father work, learning to carve, attending potlatches and cultural classes were all part of my childhood education.

These early experiences combined to form my identity and indigeneity, and continue to inform my artistic practice and my perspectives on art, culture and the process of reconciliation.

I believe that novel artistic expression, from a person raised within cultural ways and understanding of nationhood, is not only the definition of a contemporary Indigenous artist, it is evidence of survival and resurgence. Cultural practice and traditional ceremony are vital to the endurance of Indigenous ways, but creating anew, as opposed to creating again, is the distinction between subsistence and holistic reclamation.

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