Michelle Stoney (left) gives a print she made to Carol Huynh (middle) with her twin sister Tamara (right) last month at the Gitxsan Summit. Michelle won a contest to have an especially crafted banner fly in the Vancouver International Airport intermittently for three years beginning early next month.

Artist’s work takes flight at YVR

Hazelton's Michelle Stoney will have a banner she designed hang in the Vancouver International Airport.

Michelle Stoney, a recent graduate of Emily Carr University, has won an art competition to have a banner she designed hang in the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) for at least three years.

This is the second time her art has graced the high-traffic area.

Her banner, which is not allowed to be viewed until unveiled on December 4, is brightly coloured depicting a raven-formed Wigyet, the trickster in Gitxsan legends, transforming into an airplane.

“The theme of the competition this year is flight,” Stoney said.

“I wanted to do a bird and one of the most important figures in Gitxsan stories is Wigyet, so that’s what ended up on the banner.”

One of Stoney’s strengths as an artist is the ability to combine different styles cohesively.

“My work these days is a mixture of Ojibway and Northwest Coast art.”

“I like using lots of colour and separating the colours with black lines.”

To qualify for the award a person had to be First Nations from British Columbia.

Stoney’s banner was chosen over three other finalists, but she will have to share with another artist for three months at a time, but she had more than a good feeling about the outcome of the contest.

“I got a call in mid-October and one of the judges on the panel hinted that I had won,” Stoney said.

“He couldn’t come right out and say it, but I got the idea.”

This isn’t the first time the talented artist has had her art displayed in YVR.

In 2009 she won $5,000 along with the art foundation award from the airport while attending Emily Carr University for her carving of an eagle bowl and head-dress.

For that award she had to work with a mentor and chose her grandfather Victor Mowatt, whom she worked with during the summer of 2009.

Winners of previous YVR awards are invited to enter current competitions through Facebook.

She learned of this year’s contest in September and immediately began formulating designs.

She was allowed to enter two pieces and made sure once she began working on them the ideas were completely formed.

“It took about a week to think about what I wanted to do,” Stoney said.

“But once I got started it took a day to design.”

She uses Adobe Illustrator to bring her ideas into the world.

Stoney currently works at Kispiox Elementary as a teacher’s assistant for Grade 4—5 students, who she gets to colour copies of her artwork.

She also coaches Hazelton secondary senior girls basketball, while applying for art grants out across Canada.


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