Nuxalk & Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw artist Danika Naccarella began her art practice in the seventh grade when she moved to Bella Coola in 2009. She attended Acwsalcta School for her senior years of high school and had the opportunity to create and learn Nuxalk art, culture and language. She began to dedicate her spare time to painting Nuxalk designs drawn by her art teachers. Eventually, they encouraged her to create her own designs, paving the way for her to increase her knowledge of Northwest Coast art forms through books and museum research. Following graduation of high school, Danika enrolled in the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art in Terrace, B.C.
While attending Freda Diesing School, Danika learned the basics of Northwest Coast 2D form line drawing, knife making, and basic wood carving in her first year, which gave her a solid foundation for her artwork. In her second year of the art program, Danika and her peers began more complex studies and projects such as bentwood box designs and crest mask carving. She completed the Freda Diesing Diploma program and returned home to her community where she became the Nuxalk art teacher’s assistant.
Danika continues to work at Acwsalcta School as a teaching artist, where she lends her expertise to the school’s art curriculum. She is also working on larger mural projects around the school that involves her student’s participation. The projects Danika is working on bring awareness to suicide prevention, and many other important topics, using Nuxalk traditional designs. While Danika continues to work within the community, she also creates her own paintings and carvings and hopes to begin expanding her art practice by working with various artists and experimenting with new mediums.
Where did you learn the traditional skill of barbecuing fish?
Barbecuing fish over the fire has been practiced for many generations of people in the Nuxalk Nation. The traditional skill of barbecuing fish has been passed through the generations of my family and was passed on to me by my grandfather.
What practice or training has helped you become a professional artist?
Being a carver runs in my family and definitely played a role in my career as a professional artist. My family comes from a family of loggers, fishermen, and carpenters, so growing up
I always found myself figuring out different ways to fix and make things work. I think that
has translated into learning and applying new skills and techniques as an artist.
What part of working with wood inspires you?
Working with wood is much more real than a piece of paper and a pencil. A block of wood can become anything. Looking at a block of wood, I can see exactly what that block wants
“Barbecue fish is one of my favourite meals. We even freeze the largest spring salmon of the season to eat in February for my birthday.”Nuxalk/Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw | Northwest Coast Artist