Joshua Watts is Nuu-chah-nulth artist and two-time Emerging Artist Scholarship recipient. In 2016, he received his first award to work with artist Ray Natraoro, and in 2019 he mentored with artist Linda Lindsay in figurative clay sculpture.
His scholarship artwork, The Bukwus, was exhibited in the group exhibition c̓əc̓əwitəl̕ | helping each other | ch’áwatway at the Museum of Vancouver in 2020.
Artist Website: joshuawattsart.webflow.io
The Bukwus, 2020
Clay, pigment Dimensions: 16 x 14 x 24 The main figure is the Bukwus. He is standing on a cockle shell, which the Bukwus is often witnessed eating on the beach. Legends say that if you are to be lured by the Bukwus and consume it’s cockle, then they will have captured your soul, and will be bound to the Bukwus as a ghost of yourself. The nudity of the figure represents the last remaining remnants of his humanity, and the face carved into the base represents his human spirit being consumed by the spirit of the Bukwus.
The Bukwus, 2020
“This piece depicts the mythological being called Bukwus by many along the northwest coast. I really felt strongly about sharing this piece depicting this mythological being because it comes with a powerful message we all in humanity can relate to and, in part, I am able to share some of my own personal story.
The Bukwus, to us as First Nations peoples, is someone who has become possessed by forces beyond our control and has become so separated from their own humanity that they become wild, filled with an insatiable hunger. In the old times, this would have happened to someone perhaps becoming lost or cast deep into the forest, however, I can think of things we face in modern times that cause us to become possessed and also separate so far from our own humanity that we hardly recognize ourselves if we aren’t mindful of our path in life.
Things that come to mind are things such as drug addiction, alcoholism, greed, desensitization, isolation, and things such as this. I have lost many dear friends and family in life which reminds me of the connection this being still has to this day. The Bukwus is a reminder of what we all, as human beings, have the potential of becoming if we choose the wrong path in life.”
– Joshua Watts