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NWCC launches Freda Diesing School of Art and Design

Freda Diesing School of Art

Northwest Community College (NWCC) today announced the launch of the Freda Diesing School of Art and Design. Freda's sister, Bobbi Perry, was on hand to officially grant the College permission to use the name of Freda Diesing at the day's signing ceremony. "Freda Diesing was an exceptional carver, teacher and mentor to many carving students throughout the northwest, Alaska and even Costa Rica. Her death in 2002 was a blow to all who knew her and especially to the artists who studied and worked with her. We are honoured to recognize and continue Freda's legacy to the art world by establishing a school in her name" explains NWCC President, Stephanie Forsyth. "Freda was a tireless educator and a champion of Northwest First Nations art. She is credited with playing a significant contribution to the revival of First Nations art and her influence and respect has become well known internationally. In recognition of her achievement, she received numerous awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 2002 and an honorary diploma from NWCC and an honorary doctorate from UNBC." Freda Diesing (Haida) was a master in carving masks, head-dresses, bowls and exquisite raven rattles. Many of her prints are in galleries locally and in museums around the world. Many acclaimed First Nations artists working today studied under Freda. First Nations artists like Dempsey Bob (Tahltan/Tlingit), Stan Bevan (Tahltan/Tlingit/Tsimshian) and Ken McNeil (Tahltan/Tlingit/Nisga'a) thank Freda for their success. The Freda Diesing School of Art and Design will be focused on First Nations art of the Pacific Northwest. The School's offerings will include programs at the certificate, diploma and degree level and will initially feature, carving, weaving, jewellery and print-making. Currently, NWCC and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design are working on a collaborative Degree in Fine Arts which will be part of the School's program offerings. This program will be distinct from other degrees offered in the province due to its unique focus on First Nations art of northwestern BC. "Emily Carr Institute is delighted to support this wonderful effort," states Dr. Ron Burnett, RCA, President, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. "We look forward to developing an Emily Carr Fine Arts degree with NWCC that will compliment and support the growth of Art and Design in northwestern BC." First Nations art historian and NWCC University credit instructor Rocque Berthiaume has been charged with the task of developing program offerings for the new School. Together with the School's Steering Committee, comprised of First Nation artists and curators, Berthiaume will be developing a vision and mission for the school, outlining key strategic directions, identifying specific program areas, and building financial and community support. "Rocque has extensive experience working in the local and international Aboriginal arts community, as well as having the privilege of working with Freda Diesing herself," states Forsyth. "Rocque has a long history with the First Nations artists of BC and has recently developed international links with Australia and New Zealand." "Freda was a great teacher of art and a friend of the college who always made time to be with the students at NWCC," explains Berthiaume. "She was also a very humble person who did not seek public recognition but was ultimately nationally recognized for her contributions in the fields of first nations art and teaching." The Freda Diesing School of Art and Design will be announced later this month by Berthiaume in Canberra, Australia at the National Museum's First Australians Gallery. Berthiaume has been working as co-curator on the People of the Cedar art exhibition being arranged by the Canadian High Commission. The Commission is presenting this show as a part of a cultural exchange between First Australians and First Nations People of the Northwest Coast of Canada. The work of Freda Diesing, Dempsey Bob and Willie White, a leading Chilkat weaver from the Tsimshian Nation, will be featured at the exhibit. The former carving and jewellery programs offered by NWCC will now be offered through the new Freda Diesing School of Art and Design. Other courses and programs will be launched later this year and will include programs of both technical and academic opportunities.

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