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YVR Provides International Stage for First Nations Artists

December 04, 2012

Richmond, B.C. (December 4, 2012):  Today, Vancouver Airport Authority and YVR Art Foundation  unveiled the winning designs of the inaugural street banner contest celebrating First Nations art in British Columbia. The new designs will hang on banners along Grant McConachie Way, Vancouver International Airport’s (YVR) departures and arrivals ramps and throughout the airport’s parkade. The winning artists, Valerie Malesku, from Queen Charlotte City and Michelle Stoney, from Hazelton, along with their art designs were recognized at a banner unveiling ceremony at YVR.

“Vancouver Airport Authority and YVR Art Foundation continue to work together to champion First Nations art and we are delighted that the work of these two tremendous artists will be shared with the thousands of passengers that arrive and depart from YVR each day,” said Anne Murray, Vice President, Community and Environmental Affairs at Vancouver Airport Authority and Chair of the Board of Directors for YVR Art Foundation. “The Airport Authority and YVR Art Foundation’s quest to capture our province’s unique sense of place and cultural heritage was reflected in this contest.”

For many visitors, YVR provides the first and last impression of British Columbia. Millions of passengers travelling through YVR each year will enjoy these outstanding tributes to BC First Nations art and aviation.

Valerie Malesku is of Cree ancestry and has lived in Haida Gwaii for the past 40 years. Her art is inspired by many legendary Northwest coast artists including Captain Gold, Robert and Reg Davidson and Bill Reid.  Valerie works with many traditional styles of art including carving, button blankets and jewellery.  Her banner design incorporates land, sea and sky along with eagles in flight. Valerie’s work can be found in galleries throughout B.C. and has been displayed internationally as far away as New York.

Michelle Stoney became interested in art through her grandfather who is a master carver.  Michelle, who is of Gitxsan ancestry, was first recognized by YVR Art Foundation for her artistic ability in 2009 as the recipient of a YVR Art Foundation scholarship.  She pursued art full-time at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.  During her time there she learned how to meld contemporary art and new techniques with the traditional First Nations art she learnt from her grandfather. Michelle based her banner design on the ‘weget’ (a raven), a favourite character that can transform into anything. In Michelle’s winning design, the weget is mid-transformation into a plane.

Vancouver Airport Authority and YVR Art Foundation strive to foster the development of First Nations art in British Columbia. The street banner contest was designed to recognize the talent of First Nations artists in B.C. and to reflect B.C.’s distinctive cultural heritage, its spectacular natural beauty and capture the theme of flight. The contest was open to First Nations artists who are B.C. residents and 17 years or older. Valerie and Michelle’s artwork will be featured on 36 banners which will hang along Grant McConachie Way, YVR’s departures and arrivals ramps and throughout airport’s parkade.

About Vancouver Airport Authority
Vancouver Airport Authority is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that operates Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Canada's second busiest airport, YVR served 17 million passengers in 2011 and handled more than 258,000 aircraft landings and take-offs on its runways. Sixty-three airlines serve YVR, connecting people and businesses to more than 100 destinations in Canada, the U.S. and around the world. The Airport Authority is committed to creating an airport that British Columbia can be proud of: a premier global gateway, local economic generator and community contributor.

About YVR Art Foundation
Established in 1994, the YVR Art Foundation exists to encourage the development of First Nations art in British Columbia. Since 2004, it has given more than $180,000 in scholarships to young artists, and the previous years' final projects can be seen throughout the YVR airport. The YVR Art Foundation is run by a board of volunteers with the help of advisors and assistants, and the support of corporate and private donors. The Foundation is incorporated as a charitable organization.  It currently administers two scholarship programs: The YVR Art Foundation Scholarships and The Frank O’Neill Visionary Award.

YVR Media Relations
604.880.9815 Twitter: @yvrairport

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