Terrace, BC – In July 2023, Coast Mountain College's First Nations Access Coordinators held a contest for the next Orange Shirt Design to be worn by members of the CMTN community from 2024 to 2027. The successful artist would receive a $1,000 honourarium.
The contest received many incredible submissions, and the committee was pleased to select two winners.
CMTN is now proud to unveil our second design for Orange Shirt Day by Nisga’a artist Smiddy Grandison, titled “Walking Hand-in-Hand.” This will be used by CMTN for three years alongside Frances Campbell's design.
Smiddy's piece is a mix of realism and traditional formline, showing two hands coming together to make a heart, with two children holding hands inside the heart. The arms contain formline elements.
In his Artist Statement, Smiddy says the design, “represents the heart of those that hath endured torment in our own salvation and the stories that come from the heart of those children who’ve fought to survive and be heard as a whole being.” He goes on to say that the word “chaos” was an inspiration for this piece.
“There’s been a lot of chaotic things surrounding this particular situation about residential schools,” says Smiddy. “A lot of things have come to light and we, as a whole, haven’t recovered from the scars of the past. But it is from that chaos that we gain strength to raise the awareness.”
A quote from the movie Kingdom Hearts also resonated with him when he was coming up with the design: “In this place, to find is to lose, and to lose is to find.”
To get into a creative headspace, Smiddy says he likes to listen to music, primarily CFNR Radio, modern day rock, metal, jazz, and classical.
“I put my headphones on, do a couple of sketches here and there and see what works, see what doesn’t,” he says. “If I come across a song that speaks to what I am trying to convey in my art piece, I take it from there and just get right down into the piece.”
The main song inspiration for “Walking Hand-in-Hand” was If I Can Dream by Elvis Presley.
Smiddy is a Nisga’a artist raised in the village of Gitlaxt’aamiks. He is a member of the Laxgibuu (Wolf) Clan in the Wilp (House) of Wii Litskw. He has been a practicing artist since 2010, specializing in digital art, and he completed a Fine Arts Diploma from the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art in 2020.
Smiddy is looking forward to creating more art in his spare time and seeing where his artwork takes him.
I am from the Nisga’a Nation. My pieces are not really influenced by anything. When drawing this piece, I just took some modern elements with the traditional style I studied during my time in Freda Diesing. It’s hard to explain my art. When I do a piece, it just appears out of nowhere and I have to draw it before it disappears for good. “Walking Hand-in-Hand” is a piece that represents the heart of those that hath endured torment in our own salvation and the stories that come from the heart of those children who’ve fought to survive and be heard as a whole being.
Smiddy Grandison, Nisga'a Nation
Smiddy is a Nisga'a digital artist who was born in Terrace, BC and raised in the village of Gitlaxt’aamiks, in the Nass Valley. He is of the Laxgibuu Clan from the Wilp of Wii Litskw and currently resides in the city of Terrace. Smiddy has been practising art since 2010.
Smiddy is mostly a self-taught, independent, and creatively free digital artist working with a drawing tablet and custom-built PC. He took his first and second year at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art from 2018 to 2020, where some people might recognize him.
His belief of creative freedom and his devil-may-care outlook on art are fuel to the flames of his creations. Smiddy believes it is up to the viewers to interpret the meaning and title of the piece that is presented to them. He believes that titles and statements are as nothing to his ideals and the beliefs of his current practice. Most if not all of his current works have no titles or statements behind his pieces. Smiddy creates for the fun of art as a whole.
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