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Marja Van Nieuwenhuyzen

Inuvik Beaufort Delta
(867) 777-4278
PO Box 2125
Inuvik, NT X0E 0T0

Artist Story

I came to the North for six months to work in a restaurant in 1976 at the tail end of the last oil boom – and just never left. I had the good fortune to find myself surrounded by artists in the Beaufort Delta and Sahtu and was honoured to learn traditional techniques of beading and sewing from elders. Formally trained as an art therapist, art has always been a part of my soul.

I was in awe of how incredibly complex their techniques were and when I started making my own art, I explored more contemporary beadwork styles. This prompted me to start creating jewellery – working with raw materials from the North such as caribou bone and antler and incorporate beadwork into the art in a multi-media way. 

After about 20 years of creating artwork in this manner, I enrolled and graduated from the advanced textile program at Capilano University in Vancouver. These new skills have profoundly influenced my artwork as I predominantly work with textiles.

I like elements of recycling and the elements of surprise. Right now I’m excited by eco-dying and printing with plants that I harvest locally: arctic rose, birch and alder leaves, delphinium from my garden, and goldenrod. I am interested in contributing to making less toxic textiles by using natural materials. With all my art, I get my inspiration from the people and culture around me and of course, from nature.

Artist Bio: 

Marja is a contemporary bead artist using a mixture of modern and traditional techniques and materials. Whether working with exotic crystals or caribou hair, Marja’s work is of exceptional beauty and creativity. Marja has been supported in her artistic endeavors since an early age – first by her parents and grandparents, and later when she moved to the North by local elders such as Lucy Adams, Judy Lafferty and Mary Barnaby. Marja has been inspired by her mentors’ skills, ability and compassion towards her as she learned more and more of the traditional Northern women’s crafts. Combining these techniques with her own unique outlook and drive for creative release, Marja has developed a one-of-a-kind artistic voice. Currently working primarily with seed beads, antler and bone, Marja is a confident multi-media artist, already planning the next addition to her repertoire of techniques and media.

Last Updated: October 11, 2019

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