Joining us as the summer artist in residence, Ellena Neel (Kwakwaka’wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth) is an inventive and powerful emerging artist. Ellena is deeply tied to her ancestral roots and comes from a long time of artist, such as David Neel, Mungo Martin, Ellen Neel, and master carver Charlie James. Ellena began apprenticing with her father at the age of 19 to further her practice of learning the Neel family style of formline design.
She has been practicing sewing nearly just as long as her formline, when her paternal grandmother gave Ellena an old machine at age of 8. Ellena never was able to perform well on the machine, but it was a starting flame for sewing. She continued the craft on and off during her teenage years, picking it up again in full swing when inspired to create West Coast regalia. It’s only of recent times she has combined her talent of sewing and West Coast design to create new fashion forward regalia pieces.
During her residency at the Bill Reid Gallery, Ellena will be working on some fun and creative person works while also acting as a mentor to the youth in our Summer Youth Art Program.
The Summer Youth Art Program is bringing together five youth from different backgrounds to the gallery twice a month to learn and be inspired by the beautiful art of the Northwest Coast. Ellena and Education Coordinator, Samantha, work together to provide innovative and engaging workshops for the participating youth. At the end of the summer, the art produced in the program will be displayed in a small exhibit that will be created and installed by the youth.
To learn more about our Summer Youth Art Program and other Youth and Education Programming at the Bill Reid Gallery, click here.
We are very excited to have Ellena joining us at the gallery, make sure to stop by and say hi and check out her work! Such as this very clever take on a bentwood box.