In a process that took more than 100 hours over 3-4 months, two artists from the Westbank First Nations (WFN) have given Bernard Avenue's revitalization a deeper connection to culture. In a ceremony today, the Westbank First Nations and the City of Kelowna unveiled the 5 banners that the artists created depicting the vital link to the land that is central in Syilx/Okanagan culture.
Senior artist Janine Lott with fellow artist Jordan Coble
Senior artist Janine Lott mentored artist Jordan Coble as they worked together on the project. The artists were excited and a bit nervous to be chosen from a jury selection of 6 Westbank First Nations artists. Upon seeing their art flying along Kelowna's main downtown thoroughfare, the artists felt proud and grateful.
“We are very appreciative to the city for for incorporating as much of our culture as they have into the project,” Lott said. This public art collaboration between the City of Kelowna and Westbank First Nation is a first for the two organizations. According to Coble, the city felt it was very important to include Westbank First Nations artists into the Bernard Avenue revitalization.
“The First Nation culture of this area is connected to the natural landscape,” said Patrick McCormick, Urban Design Planner. “We’ve reflected that connection along the street by using the Syilx language on inlaid polished pavers describing local flora and fauna and on the Gateway poles where these banners are now displayed.”
The theme for the project, “The Land is Our Culture” came from an art exhibit that was put on in Kelowna by Lott at Kelowna Museums in 2012. Coble said that the journey he took from the start to finish affected him.
“The process of the art-making made me feel more connected to the land. It made me more appreciative of the land itself. I noticed I was taking in a lot more. I was noticing everything: the beauty in the land, the reflections. It's a connection to the land that goes beyond the artwork and beyond the story. It's a lived experience.”
For more photos and the rest of the story behind each banner, CLICK HERE.