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World Renowned Artists lead Freda Diesing School Program

World renowned artists Dempsey Bob (Wolf Clan - Tahltan/Tlingit), Stan Bevan (Wolf Clan - Tahltan/Tlingit/Tsimshian), and Ken McNeil (Wolf Clan - Tahltan/Tlingit/ Nisga'a) will be leading Northwest Community College's First Nations Artist in Residence program (FNAR), teaching students the history and art of First Nations carving. First Nations Artist in Residence is the first program offering of NWCC's Freda Diesing School of Art and Design, launched earlier this year. "We are extremely fortunate to have such world class artists in this region and are privileged to have them involved in the School," states NWCC president, Stephanie Forsyth. "Each of them have helped bring First Nations art of the Pacific Northwest to the attention of the world and are active in selflessly passing knowledge of the art form along to others. This will be a lifetime opportunity for the students to work under the direction and mentorship of such gifted artists and will be a tremendous experience for them all." Dempsey Bob is one of the foremost artists of his generation and has been carving and teaching for over 30 years. His works are featured in museums and galleries around the world. A friend and student of Freda Diesing (Haida), Bob studied under Freda's tutorage and taught along side her. "I started my carving career with Freda", explains Bob. "She was the only school we had and her teaching came at a critical time for artists, a time when our art was in danger of being lost. She gave her students information and ideas and created a good foundation from which we could grow, and learn and create a style of our own. Freda taught us how to be good teachers and learners and motivated others to continue the teachings. The School is a continuation of Freda's legacy." Bob worked with the College to establish the Freda Diesing School of Art and Design and continues to provide advice and guidance to the development of the School through his participation on its Program Advisory Committee. Within the FNAR program, he will be working as Senior Advisor and together with Rocque Berthiaume will co-instruct two of the FNAR courses - First Nations Art of the Pacific Northwest I and II. Stan Bevan has been carving and teaching for over 25 years, producing many totem poles and sculptures from his community of Kitselas. He has worked on public projects around the globe from Terrace to Spain and Japan and his works are featured in many private and international collections. He has taught in BC, Alaska, New Zealand and the Yukon, as well as giving demonstrations in Japan and the US. "Freda Diesing was a teacher to all nations," explains Bevan. "Northwest Community College is the appropriate place to have the Freda Diesing School of Art and Design as it brings nations together in the pursuit of higher education. Through the College the School will bring the art of the First Nations to a new level of recognition and set new standards for aspiring artists." Ken McNeil has also been involved in the production of major public works both internationally and locally. Local projects have included the 13-foot Grizzly Bear Totem at Kitselas, the four poles for the Muks-Kum-Ol housing society in Terrace, as well as the totem pole at the First Nations House of Learning in Vancouver. He has been carving for over 25 years and taught in Prince Rupert, Kitselas, Telegraph, and at the University of Alaska in Sitka. "The creation of the Freda Diesing School of Art and Design is an honour not only for the late Freda Diesing but for the instructors who will uphold her prestige," states McNeil. "The First Nations students will walk away with a better understanding of the origins of the art and how it has evolved over time." Students in the First Nations Artist in Residence program come from around the region as well as the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Kootenays and the Yukon. Some students have already acquired post-secondary training and degrees and all come with various levels of carving experience. "The FNAR program supports the mission of the Freda Diesing School of Art and Design to honour and support the rich culture and tradition of First Nations art in the northwest," concludes Forsyth. "Together with the support and partnership of our First Nations artists and community leaders we are striving to ensure the appreciation and knowledge of First Nations art and culture is continued throughout all generations."

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