Art show features the finest in First Nations culture

Fourth Annual Invitational First Nations and Métis Art Show and Sale on display in Sidney

Artist Virgil Sampson paints a drum at his home in Central Saanich as he prepares for the upcoming First Nations and Métis Art Show and Sale.

Art is a window into a culture, a history and a community.

Virgil Sampson is one of the local First Nations artists taking part in the Fourth Annual Invitational First Nations and Métis Art Show and Sale.

Sampson makes Native-designed drums of a variety of sizes, along with limited prints and some smaller items. Creativity flows in Sampson’s family, and Sampson, in part, learned to make drums from his brother, John.

“The drums have always been a big part of our culture for a lot of spiritual reasons – healing and honouring, different kinds of ceremonies,” Sampson said. “A lot of our people are starting to turn towards artwork. … It’s an awesome way of practising who you are as a Native person, to exercise what has been passed down from year to year, generation to generation.”

Sampson also helps by providing guidance for the organizers and recruiting artists for the show, which is held to highlight the best in First Nations art. The event takes place at the Arts Centre at Tulista Park, 9565 Fifth St., in Sidney and is hosted by the Community Arts Council of the Saanich Peninsula.

Representing all First Nations people designated by the federal government is a mandate for the show. Along with artists from local Coast Salish territories, this year’s show will also feature artisans from the Métis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibway, Navajo, Inuit and Chickasaw Nations.

“There’s so many artists that are in this area, it changes almost every year,” Sampson said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

A variety of different mediums will be presented including carving, knitted items, drums, silver pieces, beads, cedar weavings and more.

“It’s a really good show,” Sampson said. “People that are collectors and are semi-serious collectors can come and meet the artists.”

Through the show, artists are given the chance to share their heritage, history and culture with others through their art, Sampson said. The public is in turn given the opportunity to learn more about First Nation’s culture – including everything from the importance of drumming to the use of cedar.

“(There are many) spiritual meanings that go behind our designs and carving and images,” Sampson said. “It brings a better understanding to other cultures of our culture.”

Some artists will be working on-site and providing demonstrations for visitors.

The gallery itself is set up to reflect the intent and spirit of the event. There will be music played and stories told to add ambiance.

This year’s show is shorter than in years past. It runs from Friday, Sept. 28 to Sunday, Oct. 21.

The show is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entry is free.

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