Ovila Mailhot is a Coast Salish graphic artist, originally from Seabird Island reservation in British Columbia, whose roots are both of Sto:lo & Nlaka’pamux Nation. Ovila notes that creating new work and revitalizing the techniques and approaches to Indigenous art is something he feels compelled to do. Ovila’s parents both share a creative streak and love for art. His father spent time with the mediums of painting and illustrating, while his mother focused on writing.
In his own words, Ovila shares that,
“Art feels vital to me. And being able to share that passion I have, is very special to me. This tradition of work, and this beauty, is so necessary for our culture & for healing.
My work must carry some level of simplicity; it must not obscure itself. That’s the tradition I’ve inherited. My work is meant to add to a continuum within a culture so rich and expansive that it still hasn’t been fully actualized or received by mainstream culture.
My father painted, and often spent time illustrating how necessary these bold symbols and colors were to our people. My mother spent so many nights writing poetry, memoirs, and essays to convey how loved my siblings and I were, and that we had a tough journey ahead, but that our traditions and the lessons we received would carry us through.
I started doing graphic art in 2014, because I felt I couldn’t do anything else. I believe that’s the beauty of lineage, that it’s in my blood, to keep moving forward & keep creating. I want to contribute and make spaces for the next generation of artists. It’s such a privilege to share my work with everyone through NoMiNoU.”
“As a Coast Salish graphic artist I am very proud to be a part of NoMiNoU Designs. NoMiNoU has given me the opportunity to share my art with everyone. And have also made me feel really comfortable in the production as to where I didn’t have to worry about jeopardizing the integrity of the art I wanted to share.
For Indigenous people, we’re often navigating how to honor our culture while protecting teachings and ideas sacred to us. With my work, I always have an open heart, and what I create is meant to be shared by all. Some work is a testimony to my people’s resilience, saying, “We are still here and strong.” The work, for NOMINOU was made with the intentions that the designs would be electric, energetic, and powerful. I like the idea of people wearing the work and living a life full of movement and fun and hustle. The symbols I use and the traditions I’m following, are close to me and handed down through generations, and protecting that is important to me, but the art I render is meant to be for everybody.
I’m proud to be part of the NoMiNoU team, and I created these designs specifically for the athleisure wear that NoMiNoU has brought to life. I am grateful and proud to see it worn.
With great support and generous compensation I am very excited to continue being able to share my art & continue collaborating work with NoMiNoU. Thank you!”
– Ovila Mailhot