Alan Syliboy grew up believing that native art was generic. “As a youth, I found painting difficult and painful, because I was unsure of my identity.” But his confidence grew in 1972 when he studied privately with Shirley Bear. He then attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where 25 years later, he was invited to sit on the Board of Governors. Syliboy looked to the indigenous Mi’kmaq petroglyph tradition for inspiration and developed his own artistic vocabulary out of those forms. His popularization of these symbolic icons has conferred on them a mainstream legitimacy that restores community pride in its Mi’kmaq heritage.
He has shown his work in numerous group and solo exhibits all over the world, from Europe to Japan, as well as in Canada and the United States. In 1999, he was commissioned to design a 22kt $200.00 gold coin for the Royal Canadian Mint. In 2009, he was selected to participate in the Vancouver 2010 Venues Aboriginal Art Program at the 2010 Winter Olympics in BC, Canada, for which he produced several unique projects including a ninety-six foot mural, a six-foot Coca Cola Bottle, as well as a fifteen foot sculpture, a collaborative work between he and nine other artists. Later that year, he had the opportunity to present a portrait of Grand Chief Membertou to Queen Elizabeth II on her 22nd visit to Halifax, NS. His 2010 Film, “Little Thunder”, an animated collaboration between Syliboy, Director Nance Ackerman and Animator Paton Francis has been screened at numerous Film Festivals, and received the Best Animation Film Award at the First Peoples Festival in Montreal. In 2010, he was short-listed for the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterwork Arts Award. In 2011 Alan launched “The Dream Canoe” Animation. In 2012 Alan was elected to the Board of Directors for the East Coast
Music Awards. Alan’s band Lone Cloud won the 2013 ECMA award for “Best Aboriginal Album”. Alan’s highlight from many other activities was his 2013 mural installation at the Halifax International Airport.
Alan still lives and works in Millbrook, NS, where he was born and raised. He creates his art in his studio in Truro, NS.