Merritt welcomes new artist

By on September 27, 2012

Arts in the Nicola Valley could receive a healthy injection of additional expertise, after the recent arrival of an award-winning artist.

Meriel Barber moved from Quesnel to Merritt in June, and she has already made quite the impression.

“The first place I went to was the art gallery,” she said. “I’ve also spent time at the heritage [Baillie] House and those are my two favourite places here so far.”

She is now working alongside Courthouse Art Gallery director/curator Kathi Dahlquist-Gray.

She has a mission in her new role to increase the relationship between First Nation people and the gallery.

When she first visited the gallery, she asked Dahlquist-Gray about the community and the two decided to work together.

“I’ve been a professional artist for at least 20 years,” she said. “That’s when I started saying I’m a professional artist and it took me a couple years to stop laughing because, after all, that was quite presumptuous of me.

“People would kind of giggle when they asked me what do I do and I said that I’m an artist.”

She has an extensive arts teaching career, including educating her four sons and instructing at the Quesnel Arts and Recreation Centre from 1999 until she moved here in June.

“When I arrived, I thought I’d stay invisible for a little while, because I was really very involved with the art community and with the First Nations community,” she said, noting she was on the board of directors for the Friendship Centre. “I’m also a First Nations fancy dancer and traditional dancer. [I also] participate in hand drumming.”

Barber, who has some Cree ancestry, said she hopes to incorporate the First Nations culture more at the Courthouse Art Gallery.

She has won several awards and her work is shown as far away as Japan.

Barber is scheduled to host art lessons at the Civic Centre from yesterday (Wednesday) to Feb. 27, where she will teach drawing for children, watercolour, watercolour for adults, and acrylic painting.

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