TRU student opens an exhibition at the KAC

Shay Paul, a current TRU student, opens ‘IllumiNATIVE’ at the Kamloops Arts Council

Paul’s work will be available for view at the Kamloops Art Council. (Elizabeth Nygren/The Omega)

The Kamloops Art Council (KAC) welcomed a new exhibition curated by local artist and KAC intern Shay Paul, titled IllumiNATIVE. The exhibition showcases not only Paul’s art but also sheds light on the Kamloops’ greater Indigenous community.

Paul said that “when [she] came into the internship, it was always kind of specified that [she] would have a chance to put on an exhibition at the end of [her] internship.”

“My original idea for [IllumiNative] is that I wanted to share [the exhibition]. I didn’t want it to be all about my art. I wanted to be a part of it, but I also wanted to include Kamloops’ greater community,” Paul said. “Specifically, Indigenous artists or even more so, young indigenous artists who may not have had any experience with art shows or even having their art publicly displayed.”

The exhibition’s goal was to encourage other indigenous youth to submit their artwork to be presented to the public. Unfortunately, participation was low, which Paul attributes to bad timing.

“With everything going on with COVID-19 and [this] new way of doing things… I actually didn’t get a lot of responses or interest coming back to me when I was reaching out,” Paul said. “I reached out to a couple of different organizations here in Kamloops to try and get some involved with their youth groups, but that wasn’t very successful and wasn’t [really] the best time for those organizations to commit to something like this.”

The lack lustre response left Paul scrambling to gather enough art to fulfill the need for the exhibition.

Although all the art in the exhibition is Paul’s, she hopes that she can move forward from this and create more opportunities for indigenous youth to have the chance to have their artwork shown in a professional setting.

“I am passionate about showcasing and encouraging indigenous artists and artwork in Kamloops because I deep down feel like it’s not really happening anywhere else,” Paul said.

Paul added that she’s “tried to be a part of things myself or tried to seek out programs or events and I feel like when you’re talking about indigenous artists and indigenous artwork, there’s not really a lot existing here in Kamloops.”

“This exhibition is definitely not going to be the end of it. I plan on keeping the IllumiNATIVE title and moving forward with maybe one on one workshops less so the big public exhibition in a professional gallery and maybe starting a little smaller,” Paul said. “I am getting to know some of the artists here in Kamloops instead of expecting them to lay all of their artwork there for everyone to see. I’m not done. I’m not going to be done until there’s some kind of indigenous art presence in Kamloops.”

Paul was the forerunner of the exhibition and was able to curate the event herself. Although she had help near then end setting it up, she was able to do much of the heavy lifting herself, as this was not her first time curating an exhibition.

IllumiNATIVE will be available for viewing at the Kamloops Arts Council from now until Oct. 30 on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Exclusively on Tuesdays, Paul will be available to talk to from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. for anyone interested in more incite on the exhibition. She will also have various prints and products for sale, including notebooks, cards, and prints of the artwork.