Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A bit of history will be made in the Manitoba city of Dauphin this week.
That’s because the city will host what is believed to be its first exhibit exclusively featuring Indigenous artists who are producing work in the Woodland style.
The Woodland style is also called legend or medicine painting. It uses the subjects of traditional stories, history, myths and legends in work done in contemporary mediums. It’s from the Great Lakes area, including northern Ontario and southwestern Manitoba. Norval Morrisseau, dubbed the Picasso of the North, is considered the founder of Woodland-style art.
The Woodland Art and Cultural Experience will begin on Sept. 12 and continue until Sept. 19. The event will be held at the Watson Art Centre, which will be open from noon until 7 p.m. daily.
Patrick Paul, Ojibwe, and a member of Whitesand First Nation in Ontario which is located about 250 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, is the show’s organizer. He’s also one of five artists whose work will be on display.
“It was super significant for me to be able to do this in Dauphin,” said Paul, a 27-year-old who has been living in the city for the past five years.
Other artists included are Tom Tom Sinclair, Mishiikenh Kwe, Bree Island and Jared Tait.
“These artists are some of the biggest Indigenous artists in Canada right now and their work is going to be in my community,” Paul said.
Paul is a relative newcomer to the arts scene.
“I first got into it two years ago,” he said. “I just started sketching with pencil crayons. At first I didn’t even know why I was doing it. But now I know my ancestors were calling me to do this.”
It didn’t take Paul long to achieve some success.
He was featured in an article in Ottawa Life Magazine just six months after commencing his art career. Plus, he was commissioned to produce two indoor murals in Dauphin.
He painted bears for a mural located inside Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School. And he also painted a powwow scene of young Indigenous dancers inside a former residential school.
“That way there’s always going to be happy children in there,” Paul said.
Paul has also completed his work on a digital art piece, which will be blown up to be a 4-foot by 8-foot installation inside the Dauphin Public Library.
And he’s one of seven artists who formed the Woodland Art Collective a few weeks ago. The plan is to have these artists display their work at venues throughout the country.
“We’ve had a lot of inquiries to go to different places,” Paul said, adding Toronto and Vancouver are a couple of the major cities that could soon be hosting an exhibit from those in the collective.
The Dauphin art event will include a handful of vendors, including Indigenous clothing designers and beaders.
Live painting and storytelling sessions will be held for three days from Sept. 15 to Sept. 17.
“I’m just going to be setting up a canvas and an easel,” Paul said. “I’ll just kind of paint whatever comes to mind. I think everyone else will be doing the same thing.”
Paul said a large percentage of Dauphin residents have Ukrainian roots. And there are many Métis as well living in the city, which has a total population of about 10,000 people.
Several First Nations are located near Dauphin as well.
“Everyone is able to come out and learn a little bit about our culture and our history,” Paul said.
Paul himself will have six pieces of his work in the show.
His favourite piece on display is one titled Nindaanis, an Ojibwe word that in English translates into My Daughter.
This painting represents Paul’s three-year-old daughter Ryley, who is wearing a jingle dress.
“The dress was inherited by my mom,” Paul said. “And it was made by my great grandmother.”
Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.