South Vancouver’s Native Northwest brings First Nations art to Vancouver hospitals

Artist wants his art to be healing

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Reported by Lauren Boothby and Cheryl Whiting

Paul Windsor hopes that his new painting series benefits patients at Vancouver General Hospital.

His nine-painting installation in the second floor cafeteria of the Jim Pattison Pavilion is the latest of approximately 30 art pieces donated by Larry Garfinkel, CEO of South Vancouver-based company Native Northwest, to Vancouver hospitals. The paintings focus on First Nations healing and health, and are intended to bring vibrancy to the hospital environment.

See related video about Jason Adair’s painting Spiritual Journey of the Shaman

Spiritual Journey of the Shaman, painting by Jason Adair. Submitted Photo

“We wanted to bring a positive energy. That’s what art is: it’s healing,” Windsor said about his work. “It represents a lot more than what you see on the surface through its shapes and its very aesthetic. But also there’s a lot of medicine behind it.”

Windsor said he hopes patients coming to the hospital can draw healing and inspiration from his paintings.

“Traditionally our people had ways of healing in several aspects: physically and spiritually,” he said. “These pieces are to represent good health and positivity.”

Garfinkel said he chose Windsor, a Haisla and Heiltsuk artist in Vancouver, because his paintings are contemporary and Northwest Coast style, and he wanted to give First Nations culture more visibility in hospital spaces.

“There needs to be an enhanced display of their culture and their art so there was a sense that we’re on traditional First Nations territory,” Garfinkel said. “We thought this is the most respectful way to do it.”

Art brings a spiritual element

Garfinkel is donating another piece to St. Paul’s Hospital by Ojibway artist Jason Adair who paints in the Woodlands style of First Nations painting.

To me it’s about healing people and as well healing myself as I paint,” Adair said. “We feel better when we see vibrant colour.”

Adair’s painting Spiritual Journey of the Shaman depicts a medicine man with a bear headdress.

“It’s a very interesting piece in terms of healing, transition and transformation,” he said. “All of these things happen for patients in the hospital: I think that’s very symbolic.”

See related video about Jason Adair’s painting.

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