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My English name is Lou-ann Neel, and I am a descendant of the Mamalillikulla, Da’naxda’xw, Ma’amtagila, and Kwagiulth tribes of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwak’wala-speaking people). My Kwak’wala names are K’idi-kle-logw, Ikya’wega and Ga’astalas. I received these names from my mom, Lily Erford of the Mamalillikulla, Da’naxda’xw, Ma’amtagila, from my uncle, Edwin Newman of the Heiltsuk and Kwagiulth peoples, and from my grandmother, Lily Speck of the Ma’amtagila.
I have been designing and creating original design works for over 30 years beginning in 1975 when I tagged along with my brother Kevin Cranmer, for his first carving lessons at Arts of the Raven Gallery. Under the guidance and instruction of Tony Hunt, Ross Hunt, and Calvin Hunt, my brother and I carved our first miniature paddle! After that first lesson, I continued my formal studies of our art forms at S.J. Willis Jr. Secondary School under the instruction of George Hunt Jr. Over a three-year period, I learned the basics of designing, painting, and wood-carving, and I became increasingly interested in creating designs specifically for clothing and jewelry.
Further inspired by the carving and textile works of my grandmother, Ellen Neel (Kakasolas), and my great-grandfather, Charlie James (Yakuglas), I continued to study and practice my design work, creating works such as traditional regalia (button blankets, aprons, and leggings), as well as modern “everyday” clothing. Recently I began creating engraved works in jewelry, and in the future I look forward to creating original works in furniture design and home décor.