Internationally Renowned Artist Sonny Assu Gives Back to Community Through Art & Mentorship


Opening this week at the Tidemark is a unique exhibit which integrates the work of local Campbell River youth and internationally renowned contemporary artist, Sonny Assu.  Assu, in partnership with the Tidemark, worked with local indigenous youth this summer to create pieces of art inspired by the artists new body of work entitled, ‘Spectacular Boom’. The workshop series, developed by Assu was designed to provide inspiration and mentorship to young artists in the community.

“Working with kids is always a blast,” says Assu. “I’ve been fortunate in my life to have achieved so much and working on this community-based project was a way to share what I have learned and to inspire a new generation of artists.”

Assu integrated his new series of work into the mentorship program as a point of discussion with the youth and a creative jumping off point for their own artwork.

“The Speculator Booms series is a new body of work that has flooded me with nostalgic day-dreams of my youth. Recollections of popping into the old Beehive to pick up the latest issue of Spider-Man, Mad magazine or Archie’s Double Digest.

But, what are the youth of today collecting? Will what they covet now still be their prized possession in the future? The Speculator Boom is a series that allowed me, and the youth participants, to question the value of what they collect. That they are able to destroy what they hold/held dear, to create something new.”

Prints from Assu’s ‘Spectacular Boom’ series will be on display at the Tidemark Theatre in conjunction with work created by local youth until November 1. The exhibit can be viewed Tuesday through Friday from 12-4pm. Admission is free and everyone is welcome!  This workshop was made possible through the generous support of the Campbell River Community Foundation and the Province of British Columbia.

Sonny Assu (Ligwiłda’xw of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations) was raised in North Delta, BC, over 250 km away from his home ancestral home on Vancouver Island. Having been raised as your everyday average suburbanite, it wasn’t until he was eight years old that he discovered his Ligwiłda’xw/Kwakwaka’wakw heritage. Later in life, this discovery would be the conceptual focal point that helped launch his unique art practice.

Assu’s artistic practice is diverse: spanning painting, sculpture, photography, digital art and printmaking. Sonny negotiates Western and Kwakwaka’wakw principles of art making as a means of exploring his family history and the experiences of being an Indigenous person in the colonial state of Canada.

Having cut his teeth in Vancouver’s art scene, Assu packed up and moved to Montreal to be with the love of his life. Five years later, along with his wife and beautiful daughter, Sonny moved back to BC, eventually settling back “home” in unceded Liǥwildaʼx̱w territory (Campbell River, BC.).
Assu received his BFA from the Emily Carr University in 2002 and was the recipient of their distinguished alumni award in 2006. He received the BC Creative Achievement Award in First Nations art in 2011 and was thrice long-listed for the Sobey Art Award. He received his MFA from Concordia University in 2017 and was one of the Laureates for the 2017 REVEAL – Indigenous Art Awards.

His work has been accepted into the National Gallery of Canada, Seattle Art Museum, Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Anthropology at UBC, Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Hydro Quebec, Lotto Quebec and in various other public and private collections across Canada, the United States and the UK.