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Ktunaxa artist mentors Nelson’s Hume School youth in mural project

Students worked with artist PJ Gilhuly
The mural Raven’s Eye View was created by Hume School students under the tutelage of Ktunaxa artist PJ Gilhuly. Photo: Submitted

Submitted by the Nelson and District Arts Council

Students from Hume School in Nelson have created a mural at the school led by self-taught Ɂakisq̓nuk artist PJ Gilhuly.

Born in Cranbrook, PJ was adopted and lived in Ontario most of her life. Both her children were born in Ontario and when the family was young, they moved back to the East Kootenay. For the past eight years, PJ has ignited her love for art and has made a living from it. Murals are her passion and painting large without scaling and going by eye and instinct is what drives her to do her best. PJ has participated in the Nelson International Mural Festival both solo and with her daughter, Lyla, creating the murals Turtles and Raven Haven.

Since 2018, the Nelson and District Arts Council (NDAC) has partnered with the Nelson Youth Action Network to facilitate an annual youth mural project. Youth artists receive mentorship from a professional artist and work collaboratively to create a large-scale piece.

PJ worked with 220 Hume school students in kindergarten to Grade 5 and members of the Nelson Youth Arts Action Committee to create a new mural during the third week of June. Despite inclement weather throughout the week, the artist and their entire team created an authentic representation of Hume student work overlaid on the beautiful mural envisioned by PJ. The artist returned in August to add the finishing touches to the piece, which she has titled Raven’s Eye View.

“PJ not only brought her amazing art to Hume School, but she held space for the students to feel honoured with their own unique contribution to the mural,” said Hume School principal Sacha Kalabis. “The Hume School students and staff feel grateful to have had a chance to work alongside PJ in this project.”

“It was a great honour to collaborate with PJ in leading this visible learning, with support from Lower Kootenay Band,” adds NDAC executive director Sydney Black.

A huge thank you to the Hume School Parent Advisory Committee, who have been integral to bringing this project to fruition.

Previous youth mural locations have included the Nelson and District Youth Centre, Trafalgar School, and the Nelson Leafs Recycling Depot, and mentor artists have included Coleman Webb, Bryn Stevenson, Matty Kakes, Amber Santos, and Steph Kellett.