Shawn Hunt

BFA in Visual Art, 2002

Shawn Hunt graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UBC. He is a Heiltsuk artist currently based in Vancouver, BC. His work incorporates a range of influences from both his training in traditional design, wood and jewelry carving and his engagement with contemporary questions of subversion, preconception and fluid meanings. He has apprenticed with Coast Salish artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun in painting and Heiltsuk artist Bradley Hunt in traditional design, carving and engraving. In 2011 he received the BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations’ Art. In 2018, his solo show, Transformation, was at the Audain Art Gallery.

What was your experience studying visual art and art history at UBC?

I transferred to UBC in my third-year of undergrad. I came from a studio art program at Capilano University that involved a lot of in-class art making. I transferred to UBC to get my BFA because I saw UBC as a rigorous program that focused on conceptual art and theory. Let me say firstly that I have never enjoyed school. All I have ever liked doing is making art. I found my time at UBC very challenging but I was very focused and dedicated to getting good grades and exploring different mediums. I had some great professors while at UBC. Some that really left a meaningful impression were artists Ken Lum and Gu Xiong as well as art historian and critic William Wood. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without that experience. It really forced me to focus on my weaknesses as an artist. Much of my conceptual work as well as my understanding of art and art history comes from my years at UBC.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

My advice is to make friends and connections. The people you meet and share classes and studio space with may become curators, gallery directors, critics, writers. They will become your network as an artist when you leave school. Also of importance—and I cannot state this enough—is to have fun. Be experimental, try everything. You don’t know who you are as an artist yet, and that’s good. Challenge everything. Art school is a very short amount of time. Immerse yourself in everything that is art. Soak up the knowledge. You will need it all if you decide to make a career as an artist.