Fort Langley – A collaborative ‘paint by number’ art mural that became a centrepiece of the 2022 Odlum Brown Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival in July has now found a permanent home at Foundry Langley.
The concept of a mural was based on a desire by the organizing committee for the Odlum Brown Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival to collaborate with Kwantlen First Nation, share their culture, and create greater understanding, learning, and a step towards reconciliation. The 98 square foot outdoor mural was based on a design by a brother and sister duo who are Kwantlen First Nation artists – Elinor Atkins and her sibling Noah Atkins.
“The concept of the mural was intended to mark Canada’s emergence from the pandemic by having the community come together and create a collaborative piece that reflects the theme of reflection, recovery, and rejuvenation,” said Festival co-founder and Artistic Director Dave Quinn. “, it evoked an emotional response that we could only have hoped for.”
“The design incorporated butterflies and bumble bees with flowers, along a river side because in my perspective, butterflies represent hope, change, growth, and transformation – bumble bees represent community and communication – flowers rebloom every year and bring light and color back into the world – and lastly, the Fraser River depicted in the design is a symbolic representation of Kwantlen First Nations as people of the river,” explained Elinor.
“It is only fitting that the mural should find its permanent home at Foundry Langley, where supports and services are provided for youth,” said Karen Zukas, Festival co-founder and Executive Director. The centre provides integrated health and wellness services and supports that address five core areas – primary care (coming soon), mental health, substance use, peer support and social services for youth ages 12 to 24 and their families.
“We are excited that Foundry Langley was chosen as the location to display this piece of artwork, said Kristin Coyne, Manager of Foundry and Clinical Services at Encompass Support Services Society. “This project truly captures the heart of what we are aiming to accomplish at Foundry Langley: Our focus is on community working together; centering youth in the process; and creating a welcoming space for all young people and their families. We value our relationship with Kwantlen First Nation and the Indigenous community members here and send special thanks to the festival, artists and everyone who made this possible.”
Miməwqθelət | Elinor Atkins
Elinor Atkins traditional name, Miməwqθelət translates to “the first bird to sing in the morning.” A 23-year-old Kwantlen First Nation and Nɬeʔkepmx artist, Elinor’s art is deeply influenced by her roots in the Coastal and Interior Salish culture. She felt lucky to be raised in a time when Kwantlen was working towards cultural reclamation and resurgence, so Kwantlen First Nation culture was just a way of life for her growing up. When Kwantlen was first reclaiming their heritage and re-learning their culture, her mother, Phyllis Atkins a professional artist, ran the cultural workshops. Elinor would attend these classes with her mom when she was little and learned everything from beading and language to cedar weaving and wool weaving. Most of her current work draws from those teachings or are spiritual subject matter and have very traditional influence.
Elinor’s style is unique because of the combination between the traditional Salish design elements, and contemporary components, such as the bright color palettes and neo traditional tattoo influence. Her focus is building an art portfolio through practicing skills in different art mediums such as wood carving, painting, printmaking, and illustration as well as pursuing public art opportunities and commissions that will help her grow as an emerging Indigenous artist.
Ncwaʕ | Noah Atkins
Noah Atkins received his name Ncwaʕ during a Traditional Naming Ceremony in 2017 at the Kwantlen Big House witnessed by family, community members and friends. Ncwaʕ is a very old name and held very close to the Joe family and belonged to Noah’s maternal great great grandfather.
Noah attended the Langley Fine Arts School from grade 1-12 and graduated in 2021 as a Drama Major while also studying film and art. Over the past couple of years Noah has been mentoring with his mom and professional artist, Phyllis Atkins in jewelry making and Coast Salish design, creating his own copper jewelry collection. Recently, Noah has been setting up his own home studio to pursue his love of fashion and build his own brand and clothing line.