There are 198 distinct First Nations in British Columbia. Their art and culture enrich our province, sharing their traditions with new generations while building a dialogue about cultural practices, identity and resilience.
Kari Morgan is one of the foremost young Indigenous artists working in BC. She has displayed artwork across the Northwest, Vancouver, and Seattle, showcasing her distinctive minimalist style that blends traditional First Nations art with contemporary influences.
While there are so many ways to explore Indigenous art in our province, Kari’s work represents a fantastic introduction, encompassing works as diverse as murals, paintings, carvings and jewelry. We caught up with Kari to learn more about her art.
My name is Kari Morgan, my Nisga’a name is K’alaajex. My background is Nisga’a from the house of Kw’isk‘ayn, European and Metis. I’m originally from Prince Rupert and I currently live in Terrace. I’m a First Nations fine artist, a sculptor and designer and I’m mainly focused on paintings and carvings. Occasionally, I dabble in clothing and jewelry and that’s something I might focus on more in future. I also do murals, and in the past, I’ve held workshops and mentorship talks but they’re currently on hold due to the pandemic.
Honestly, I get it from everywhere. I get it from nature, I get it from other artists, I even get it in random spots that have nothing to do with art. Sometimes, I’ll look at older pieces I’ve made and suddenly get struck with an idea for a new piece. I take elements from the older work and adapt it to something else I have in mind, or random colours I’ve seen.
I know it’s a bit of an easy answer, but inspiration comes from all around us.
The mural is called ‘The Wild Ones’ and it’s a mural of wild steelhead salmon. In fact, it was funded by the Steelhead Society and the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area Society. Their plan was to have the design feature steelhead, so I created a design for them and thankfully they loved it.
I’m very much into minimalist colours right now. Maybe it’s just a phase I’m going through but I love earthy tones and I love black and white. I like minimal colours as they don’t distract from the original design. When it came to ‘The Wild Ones,’ they wanted a more colourful design to display Downtown, so we came up with a compromise. I think the turquoise and light blue really make the design pop.
I’m currently working on another mural I’ll be doing this year in Prince Rupert, and it’s something I hope to do more of in future.
You can check out all my work at the Kari Morgan website, visit my Instagram or Facebook. I also have my very own art show coming up here in Terrace at the Terrace Art Gallery in July. The show is called “Living Lines” and it’s an expression of both the linear lines that make up our background and family, and the lines we draw with our designs, form lines or carvings. There’s a lot of movement between those lines so it represents a double meaning.
I think it’s so important for people to support the artists we have here in BC because they depend on that support to keep producing their work.
We’re lucky to live in a place that not only has so many talented artists, but also has an abundance of rich history for those artists to call on. That history serves to inspire them to create so many amazing pieces of art.
I’m so appreciative of the people who have supported me in my career and allowed me to keep making my art. These people understand the wealth of knowledge and talent that exists here in BC. The only way we can preserve Indigenous artists and ensure their work continues is by supporting them.
We respectfully acknowledge our place of work is within the ancestral, traditional and unceded territories of the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaʔɬ/sel̓ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and that we serve the Peoples of the many Nations throughout British Columbia.