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MOA Shop Emerging Indigenous Artist Contest

Congratulations to not one, but two winners of the 2019 MOA Shop Emerging Indigenous Artist Contest: Maka Monture Päki for Not Invisible and John Velten for Hummingbird! This year, the contest submissions were so strong that our contest jury declared its first-ever tie.

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. On winning the contest in 2018, Sarah Jim says, “[it] has been an amazing experience because my art is not only being encouraged but celebrated by being displayed at a major institution… I love wearing my shirt! It represents who I am as an artist and who I am as a member of W̱SÁNEĆ. This opportunity has encouraged me to keep creating and to stay on the artistic path that I’m on.”

This year’s two winning artists explore different themes in their pieces, but share an abundance of talent and a passion for how art can create community.

“Not Invisible” by Maka Monture Päki. Our contest jury appreciated the design for its relevant message and strong imagery.

Maka Monture Päki is an author, campaigner, scholar and ceremonial performer of Tlingit, Mohawk, Filipina, and Canadian Kanien’kehá:ka descent, currently living in Anchorage, Alaska. Her powerful piece Not Invisible depicts a female guardian with a labret piercing (lip piercing) and healing hands, in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

“Hummingbird” by John Velten. The design’s tender and uplifting energy captivated our contest jury.

John Velten is an artist from Vancouver, BC who works in public installation, 2D graphics and 3D sculptural works. His elegant piece Hummingbird embodies “the flourishing and lighthearted take” he has towards “learning more about who I am and where we reside.” He sees artwork as a way to positively impact and serve his community, with the intention of reaching broad audiences.

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. And in 2018, Sarah Jim (Tseycum) depicted an image of ecological harmony and stewardship of the sea for her piece Orca Ontology.

This year’s winning artworks can be found adorning t-shirts at the MOA Shop in July, alongside selected 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.

Contest Winners

MakaMonture_NotInvisible copy

2019 – Maka Monture Päki, Not Invisible (co-winner)

Maka Monture Päki’s powerful piece Not Invisible depicts a female guardian with a labret piercing and healing hands, in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.


2019 – John Velten, Hummingbird (co-winner)

Hummingbird embodies “the flourishing and light-hearted take” the artist has toward “learning more about who I am and where we reside.” He sees artwork as a way to positively impact and serve his community, with the intention of reaching broad audiences.


2018 – Sarah Jim, Orca Ontology

Orcas are protectors of the sea and native creatures to the Northwest Coast. Jim’s circular formation of killer whales depicts the delicate balance of life, and the duality of her design symbolizes the even distribution of the Salish Sea between animals and people. 


2017 – Maya McKibbin, The Black Snake

The Black Snake illustrates the prophecy of the Lakota, that when the black snake comes, the world as we know it would end. McKibbin connects this prophecy to the Dakota Access Pipeline, in hopes that this design can raise awareness, while promoting hope and unity.


2016 – Danika Naccarella, Touching Spirit

This design is inspired by an old house front in Bella Coola. It represents a human figure touching the ancestral spirit, which is expressed by the red circle. Naccarella’s design emphasizes the importance of connecting with one’s ancestors to remember their teaching and triumphs.

2015_HowRavenAccidentally WipedOutTheDinosaurs

2015 – Alison Marks (née Bremner), How Raven Accidentally Wiped Out the Dinosaurs

How Raven Accidentally Wiped Out the Dinosaurs tells the tale of how one of Raven’s schemes elsewhere in the cosmos backfired, sending him smashing into earth—obliterating prehistoric life as it was then, and ultimately clearing the way for human civilization. 


2014 – Alison Marks (née Bremner), Live Long and Potlatch

Live Long and Potlatch depicts a traditional hand making a familiar gesture. The design is a nod to the media and technology-filled world we live in today. Marks hopes that the humourous design will make First Nations culture accessible to youth. 

2019 Contest Details

Are you an emerging Indigenous artist, between 15 and 25 years old, with something to say? Submit an artwork that expresses your identity, and the MOA Shop will help share it with the world. The winning artwork will be printed on a t-shirt and sold and promoted exclusively through the MOA Shop for one year. The winner will receive a $250 prize, plus royalties.

The submission deadline is May 5, 2019. The contest is juried by Museum of Anthropology staff and the winner is announced in June 2019. We look forward to receiving your artwork!

Please send all submissions and any questions to shoptshirt@moa.ubc.ca.

Any individual 15 to 25 years of age who identifies as Indigenous, Aboriginal, First Nations, Inuit, or Métis. International submissions are welcome.


  • Submit an artwork that visually expresses your story.
  • What do terms like Indigenous, Aboriginal, First Nations, Inuit, or Métis mean to you?
  • What symbols inspire your sense of personal identity and culture?

 Rules + Guidelines

  • Artwork may be from the artist’s pre-existing work, and does not need to be expressly made for the purposes of this contest.
  • Artwork may use a maximum of two colours, and must be easily visible on a white or light-coloured background. Artists are encouraged to send completed works with the design’s intended colours.
  • Artwork must fit on the front of the t-shirt (no wrap-around, sleeve, or back designs).
  • Artwork must be submitted with file extension .ai, .eps, .pdf, .fxg, or .svg.
  • Two entries maximum per person.
  • Entries from artists who have submitted in previous years are welcomed.
  • Submission checklist:
    • Artwork submission(s)
    • Completed entry form found here.
    • Artist biography (approx. 250 words)


Artists retain full copyright of any submitted entries. The winning artwork will be licensed by the MOA Shop for one year, and the artist is free to license or sell their winning artwork to other parties. Profits from the sale of t-shirts with the winning design goes towards MOA’s public programs, community engagement initiatives, and educational outreach.

The MOA Shop collaborates with the winning artist to provide production and technical support, as needed, and to tailor their artist biography and statement for promotional materials.