Luke Parnell


Challenging Traditions, 2013
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 30 in.

Luke Parnell is an artist of Haida and Nisga’a heritage who, through the use of traditional techniques from the Northwest Coast, investigates contemporary social issues. Parnell also simultaneously acknowledges the historical implications of his method of working within his practice.
Traditional Northwest Coast art was centred on the convergence of intangible and material wealth: an individual’s rights and privileges and the objects that represented them. Parnell’s work continues to address ideas of rights, ownership, and privilege in the context of his own experience.
Parnell has been a professional artist for ten years. Having graduated from Emily Carr with distinction, Parnell is the recipient of the 2012 Winsor Gallery Graduate Student Award. He has exhibited work across Canada, recent exhibitions include: Transportation and Renewal at the Seymour Gallery in 2013, Vancouver; Re-contextualizing the De-consecrated at Winsor Gallery in 2014; and a feature at Winsor Gallery in 2015, entitled Concurrent. His work is included in notable collections such as the National Gallery of Canada, and private collection across Canada. Parnell is currently an instructor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Additionally, Parnell was a recipient of the 2016 BC Creative Achievement Awards for First Nations Art. An award that celebrates artistic excellence in both traditional and contemporary visual art.
About his work he writes:
“I am Haida from Massett and Nisga'a from Gingolx and have been a professional artist for ten years; my main focus has been Northwest coast native art. My methodology is to protect cultural knowledge but to still create art that is not devoid of meaning, I’ve done that by showing that my work is part of a lineage and not a break from “tradition”. The traditional arts of the Northwest Coast were a convergence of intangible and material wealth. The intangible was things like rights and privileges, such as, the right to fish or hunt in certain areas and the privilege to used certain crests or take part in specific dances or rituals. The material wealth was the objects that represented those rights, such as, masks, rattles or large house screens. My artworks, which I consider the material wealth of our contemporary culture, explore our contemporary intangible wealth.”