Shawn Hunt is a Heiltsuk artist from Waglisla (Bella Bella), BC. He is the son of Heiltsuk artist J. Bradley Hunt and older brother to artist Dean Hunt. He began carving in 1994 and has a diploma in studio art from Capilano University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia. Hunt apprenticed with his father, carving several totem poles, masks, and sculptures. They continue to collaborate on some of their pieces.
Hunt is well known for his vividly carved jewelry. He applies his knowledge of wood carving to the metal and thinks of each piece as a painting or sculpture that can be worn on the body. More recently he has focused on painting, including a 2012 solo show of his acrylic work at McCaulay and Co. Fine Art in Vancouver, BC. Hunt uses his knowledge of Heiltsuk and Northern traditional formline design to create imaginative images of stories that reflect his own experiences. With this he combines the smooth execution of fluid lines, vibrant colours, and multiple layers to create works with depth and dimension. These innovative elements set his work apart; while it emulates traditional structures, his clean and minimal forms create a modern, sometimes surrealist, aesthetic. Hunt’s work accomplishes a difficult task – creating work based in tradition that looks like a new expression.
Hunt credits his love of the art form with the rediscovery of his culture: “When I was younger I didn’t feel very connected to my culture because I grew up off reserve, but I was always surrounded by the art. As I got older I started to realize the connection between the art and the culture, and how one cannot exist without the other. Carving has taught me so much about my culture and who I am.”
Aside from several solo shows, Hunt’s work has been featured in several major exhibitions, including “Challenging Traditions” at the McMichael Museum in Ontario in 2008 and “Beat Nation: Art Hip-hop and Aboriginal Culture” at the Vancouver art gallery in 2012.