Congratulations to Michayla King, this year’s winner of the MOA Shop’s Annual Emerging Indigenous Artist Contest. Michayla’s design: awi’nagwis (Land), invites you to reflect “upon the energy we get from the land. A promise to always be mindful of this relationship, whether that be within the boundaries of our cities, or in the pure origin of nature itself.”
This year’s winning design, awi’nagwis (Land), features a glowing cityscape and contrasting earth tones that represent a sophisticated approach to the continually relevant issue of people’s connections with the land; whether that be within our cities, or in nature itself. Michayla hopes that whoever, wherever you are, you can feel the highest form of respect for the land you call home.
Michayla King is a descendent of the Kwakwaka’wakw, Dzawada’enuxw, Namgis, Métis and European people. Growing up with a limited connection to her Indigenous identity, she is now passionate to join in the movement of revitalization and reclamation of her culture. Through her work, she is creating a space where she can reside as a proud woman who embodies both Indigenous and European qualities. A mixture of urban and rural.
The MOA Shop Emerging Indigenous Artist Contest began in 2014 as the MOA Shop T-shirt Contest, with a call for budding artists to submit art expressing their heritage, culture and identity. Winners receive a cash prize and royalties from t-shirts printed with their art, which are sold exclusively at the MOA Shop. The contest was developed in conjunction with MOA’s 2014 award-winning exhibition Claiming Space: Voices of Urban Aboriginal Youth, which featured Indigenous youth telling their own cultural stories. Both Claiming Space and the Emerging Indigenous Artist Contest share the voices of young Indigenous artists. The contest provides a supportive and professional environment to showcase their art that, for some past winners, has been the start of their careers in the arts.
Past winners have embodied many facets of what it means to be a young Indigenous artist today. Alison Marks (Tlingit) won the contest in 2014 for Live Long and Potlatch and in 2015 for How Raven Accidentally Wiped Out the Dinosaurs. Her bold designs re-imagined cultural motifs through a modern lens. 2016’s winning design, Touching Spirit by Danika Naccarella (Nuxalk), was influenced by house posts in Bella Coola and ancestral teachings. In 2017, Maya McKibbin (Yaqui, Huichol and Ojibwe) was inspired by the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and illustrated the Lakota prophecy of the end of the world in The Black Snake.
In 2018, Sarah Jim (Tseycum) depicted an image of ecological harmony and stewardship of the sea for her piece Orca Ontology. The first ever tie happened in 2019 with Not Invisible by Maka Monture Päki (Tlingit, Mohawk, Filipina and Canadian Kanien’kehá:ka) which honours Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ,and John Velten’s Hummingbird design whose uplifting energy captivated the selection jury. In 2020, Coral Shaughnessy-Moon (Musgumagw Dzawada’enuxw), also brought awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people with her unique and striking design, Ha̱yulis tła̱n’s ma̱lkwa̱lał (We Will Always Remember).
This year’s winning artwork can be found adorning t-shirts—available for purchase at the MOA Shop starting in the fall, alongside t-shirts designed by select past winners. By purchasing a shirt, visitors help share and support the work of these talented emerging artists, while ensuring the longevity of the contest for the future.
You can find Michayla King on Instagram @bidu.designs.