Artist Peter Wayne Gong is using art as a means of connecting with West Coast youth by providing an example of what can be done through hard work and perseverance. An accomplished Coast Salish artist from Squamish Nation, Peter finds inspiration in his art by drawing upon life experiences and passing on the knowledge he has acquired to the next generation.
Is there a specific moment you knew that you wanted to create art for a living?
After working on a project that I was hired to carve on by my mentor George Pennier . I realized that carving was what I wanted to do full-time.
What is one project you are looking forward to working on in the future?
I bent some large yellow cedar chests which I will give to my kids—I am looking forward to when I will feel comfortable designing and carving them so that they can have them as heirlooms.
What advice would you give artists who are looking to carve out their own career?
My advice to any aspiring carvers (artists) is to seek out a mentor or mentors to speed up the learning curve. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes and to push your comfort zone.
“When I started my journey as an artist in 2009, I had very little skill as a carver/artist. My passion to learn drove me to find mentors that could teach me the skills that I needed to become a full-time artist. I was mentored by three full-time professional first nations artists who passed on their experience. Their generosity gave me insight into the work that I needed to do and the skillset that I needed to gain to become a full-time artist.”Squamish | Coast Salish Artist