Aboriginal artists carve out new market with high-tech tool
Aboriginal artists in British Columbia are hoping high-tech tools can help them carve out a new market for their traditional designs.
Carved cedar door panels take so long to produce that artists need to charge as much as $30,000 to make a profit.
But technology known as computer-numerical control can create reproductions in just a few hours, allowing them to be sold for as little as $2,000.
UBC Forestry Professor Christopher Gaston came up with the idea of training indigenous artists to make the reproductions, and partnered with Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECUAD) and a local company to offer a free four-week course.
Gaston said he hopes people will “be more inclined to buy a piece that’s going to be part of their home than just a piece that’s going to hang up on their wall.”
James Harry is among those who took the course. “We all can’t be selling our artwork for millions of dollars,” Harry said. “We have to find out … other ways.”
ECUAD’s Brenda Crabtree, who is helping to promote sales of the students’ work, says the response so far has “overwhelming.”
Not only are orders are pouring in from across Canada, but she has heard from potential buyers in Germany and Japan.
With a report from CTV National News Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy