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Vernon Stephens

Gitxsan

Vern Stephens is an Indigenous artist from Hazelton, BC. He was one of the main instructors at the famous Gitanmaax School of Northwestcoast Art throughout the 1970’s. Vern is best known for his innovative and contemporary graphic design work.

One of the major features in Northwest coast art are formlines. Formlines are typically continuous, flowing, and curvilinear lines. They can turn, increase and decrease in thickness. An interconnected web of formlines creates the overall image, including highly stylized shapes, known as ovoids, u forms and s forms. Vern has challenged this compositional tradition of Northwest coast art with his designs of incomplete, or interrupted formlines.

Vern Stephens was one of the artists who carved the enormous entry doors at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology. In 1980, Vern’s work formed part of the exhibition ‘The Legacy: Continuing Traditions in Northwest Coast Art’, which toured across Canada and Scotland. Vern also has pieces in permanent collections at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology and the Royal BC Museum.