Indigenous carving course takes shape at Okanagan College
An internationally renowned master carver and Indigenous artist is setting up shop at Okanagan College this winter to pass on the traditional skills and knowledge he has honed over a 25-year career working with wood.
Darren McKenzie is a Cree and Métis artist from Vancouver. Fueled by a desire to inspire the next generation of carvers, he recently worked with the College to develop a new course – Indigenous Wood Sculpting – that will run from Feb. 2-18, and again from March 2-18, at the Kelowna campus.
“This course is a bit of a hybrid,” explains McKenzie, who began his career as an illustrator and painter before turning to carving in the early 1990s. “It will be a blend of traditional carving and Indigenous wood carving, but it’s going to be very open-ended. We’ll delve into any techniques and styles the students want to learn.”
The course will also cater to students of all skill levels.
“There will be something for everyone,” says McKenzie. “We’ll work through everything from basic drawing, design and carving, to some more advanced elements.”
McKenzie began carving in 1993 under the instruction of Salish Artist Gerry Sheena. He then went on to complete an intensive four-year apprenticeship with master carver Ken Mowatt at the ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum in Hazelton, B.C.
Throughout that time, McKenzie has remained committed to sharing what he has learned along the way with budding artists. He hopes this course might encourage new carvers to pick up the tools of his trade.
“I’m always excited to hang out with like-minded people and pass on my knowledge,” says McKenzie. “I hope everyone comes away inspired to keep on learning and keep on carving.”
The course runs Friday evenings and weekends. More information is available at okanagan.bc.ca/indigenouscarving.