Artist Talk - Cole Speck

The NIC Artist Talk series returns for winter 2024 — continuing with Cole Speck, an artist who combines a deep appreciation of Kwakwaka'wakw culture with his own contemporary style.

Facilitated and hosted by the NIC Fine Art Department, the Artist Talk series invites Canadian contemporary artists to come and speak about their creative art practice.

Each lecture lasts one hour, features an image presentation of the artist's work and is followed by an open question-and-answer period. It is an opportunity to meet professional artists and hear them speak first-hand about how and why they create their artwork.

The dialogue of professional art practice integrates visual communication, cultural theory, art-based research, community engagement, and technical skill development in art production, as well as grant, exhibition and mentorship opportunities.

Artist bio

Cole Speck was raised on the 'Namgis reserve on the island of Alert Bay on the northern shore of Vancouver Island, BC. Cole comes from a very strong cultural and artistic heritage. His great grandfather was the late Chief John Speck of the Tlowitsis, father of the late Henry Speck Sr. Cole is also the great grandson of the late Harry Hanuse of Mamalalaka (Village Island). As an apprentice of the late master carver Beau Dick, Speck continues to promote Kwakwaka'wakw culture through his practice and the knowledge gained from his mentor. He also apprenticed under master carver Wayne Alfred. Speck has a tremendous love and respect for his culture and aspires to keep old traditions alive while allowing his contemporary style to emerge.

In 2010/11, Speck assisted in the making of the Pat Alfred Memorial pole, and in 2012, he was selected by Rande Cook to apprentice on a totem pole that was later installed in Holland as part of a Northwest Coast exhibit. He participated in "RezErect" at the Bill Reid Gallery in 2013, and in 2014 he took part in "Claiming Space" at UBC's Museum of Anthropology.

In 2017, Speck contextualized Beau Dick's presentation at documenta 14 in Athens, GR and Kassel, DE through a re-telling of the Undersea Kingdom story. In March 2019 his work was included in Devoured by Consumerism at White Columns in New York. 2020 saw Speck's work exhibited at the Independent Art Fair in New York and in Image Power: Institutional Critique Today at the Frans Hals Museum in the Netherlands.