We all come from one root

October 8, 2016 to November 14, 2016

“Nump ma noch gyai yoo lahss” is a Kwak’wala term that translates to “We all come from one root”. This concept serves as the central theme of the exhibition of Kwakwakwk’wakw artist John Powell currently showing at the Museum at Campbell River.

John Powell was considered a family historian at the very young age of 18 months. His was frequently found under the kitchen table attentively listening to elders, a behavior first noted by his grandmother. Powell’s ability to process and save the information he collected over the years is revealed in this show Nump ma noch gyai yoo lahss, (We all come from one root), a historical journey through Powell’s family lineage. Powell’s work in this show represents his traditional First Nations background combined with a response to his cultural diversity. It is evident the work draws from a collective past, resides in a personal present and questions the future.

Powell descends from two intriguing cultures: his mother was Mamalilikulla and Kwakiutl of Village Island and Fort Rupert. His father was Welsh/Irish and English. This diversity shows in Powell’s manipulation of traditional forms, where hints of his Celtic origins mix with his Mamalilikulla roots. Powell’s unique approach to recording his family history shapes Nump ma noch gyai yoo lahss with a powerful biographical visual experience.

Powell considers himself primarily a designer, working across fashion, interior and graphic design. Most of his art practice is textile based, having created the costumes for numerous theatre productions, the most recent being “The Ecstasy of Rita Joe” at Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver. Powell was co-costume designer for the Vancouver Opera Society’s rendition of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. Leading up to the 2010 Olympics Powell worked tirelessly as the Design Co-coordinator for the opening ceremonies welcome by four host First Nations’, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada.

Nump ma noch gyai yoo lahss was curated by Liz Carter and Ken Blackburn.

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