January was the Month of the Artist in Alberta - and the Portage College Museum of Aboriginal Peoples' Art and Artifacts (MOAPAA) was front and centre.
After Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism, announced that Alberta would be the first province in Canada to dedicate a month to celebrate artists, MOAPAA's Museum Director was thrilled to have the opportunity to honour and celebrate Alberta artists.
"We have so many wonderful Alberta artists in our collection, we could have taken a few months to honour them! We chose to showcase the ones we currently have on display," said Donna Feledichuk.
With nearly 2,000 traditional and contemporary Indigenous artworks in MOAPAA's collection, the College would need many more walls to showcase them all. In the month of January, 13 artists were showcased on MOAPAA's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts under the hashtag #monthoftheartist.
- The late Elsie Quintal is one of our matriarchs of the Native Arts and Culture program and trained our current program instructors. During her lifetime, she passed down her knowledge of exquisite beadwork and embroidery skills to many. Elsie was Métis and grew up in the Owl River area, near Lac La Biche, Alberta. The museum has many of her moccasins in the collection. You can watch her in an instructional video for hide tanning here: https://youtu.be/SWUCC00yGd8
- Leo Arcand is from Alexander First Nation and started sculpting in 1991. Leo draws inspiration for his work from his deep spirituality and sense of balance. Leo's work, All My Relations, is currently on exhibit.
- David Garneau was born in Edmonton and completed a BFA and a Masters in American Literature at the University of Calgary. His work, Conflicting Patterns, is currently on exhibit.
- Jaime Morse is from Lac La Biche, Alberta and has lived on Algonquin Anishnabe Territory in Ottawa since 2000. As an artist, Jaime practices fish scale art, ink on drums and beadwork. Jaime's drum, Lac La Biche Flowers, is currently on display in the Museum.
- Terry McCue is originally from the Curve Lake First Nation in southeastern Ontario. Terry came to Alberta in 1976. He draws inspiration for his works from his personal experiences and attempts to capture the beauty that surrounds him. Terry is self-taught and learned much by watching his cousin Arthur Schilling paint. His work, The Saviour Study, is currently on display.
- Glen Nipshank is from Bigstone Cree Nation and has worked as a professional craft artist since 1984. He is best known for his contemporary hand-thrown pottery using traditional firing techniques. Currently we have three of his beautiful pottery pieces on display.
- Amy Malbeuf is a Métis visual artist from Rich Lake, Alberta. She explores notions of identity, place, language, and ecology through various media including caribou hair tufting, beadwork, installation, performance, and video. Portage was fortunate to have this nationally recognized artist as Artist in Residence in 2017-18. The College is proud to say that she is a graduate of the Portage's Native Arts and Culture program.
- The late Joane Cardinal-Schubert was born in Red Deer, Alberta and of Kainaiwa (Blood) ancestry. In addition to being an artist Joane was a successful curator, lecturer, and poet. Frequently her work addressed contemporary political issues such as Indigenous sovereignty, cultural appropriation and environmental issues. Currently Joane's piece, Poundmaker's Signal, is on display.
- George Littlechild was born in Edmonton. His mother was from the Ermineskin Cree Nation and his father was Celtic Canadian. George is known for his use of vibrant colours and finesse as a colourist. His mixed media works often recollect his personal and family stories and frequently incorporate collaging of haunting vintage photographs. Come see his works on display, Cree Man in a Thunderbird Dream and Plains Cree Chiefs.
- Ruby Sweetman traces her roots to Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, Alberta. She is an accomplished artisan showcasing exceptional skill, quality and craftsmanship. She is also the program coordinator for Portage College's Native Arts and Culture department and continues to share her knowledge of traditional arts with emerging artisans and artists. Many of her pieces are on display in the Museum including a commissioned piece by the AFA created in collaboration with Amy Malbeuf called The Art of Hide Tanning. Watch Ruby instruct Hide Tanning in this video: https://youtu.be/Jw50DFNQveQ
- Alex Janvier from Cold Lake First Nations, Alberta is of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent. Alex is the most highly acclaimed Indigenous artist in Canada and as a member of the Professional Native Indian Artist Inc. He is one of the most significant pioneering Indigenous artists. The Museum has ten works of Alex's in the collection including watercolours, acrylics, oils and ink works.
Thanks to a public art grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA), MOAPAA was able to commission three amazing artists to contribute their work for the Museum's Celebrating New Dawn project. Two of these artist currently have their works displayed at the Museum.
- Stewart Steinhauer from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, Alberta is a stone carver and has been carving for over 30 years. His works can be found in many public and private collections. You can see Stewart's stone carving, Newokatew-ayisiyin' (Four-legged Spirit Being), in the Environmental Sciences building at the Lac La Biche Portage campus. Watch the making of video for that piece here: https://youtu.be/ijxbGrdqe8U
- Jane Ash Poitras is a highly acclaimed painter and printmaker from Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. She is a storyteller who explores various topics from Indigenous history, culture and politics to the influence of plants on Indigenous culture. Numerous pieces are on display at the Museum. Portage is excited to unveil her commissioned work on the history of Treaty 6 and 8 in the near future.
- Jason Carter's wasn't featured as #monthoftheartist but the member of the Little Red River Cree Nation in Alberta will have his first piece installed in the main foyer of the Lac La Biche campus in the near future.
The Museum of Aboriginal Peoples' Art and Artifact is open to the public and free of charge. Request a tour guide or follow the map on your own self-guided tour. The main museum is at the Lac La Biche campus, but if you are in Cold Lake or St. Paul, the collection expands out to our other campuses.
"We appreciate when visitors come to see our humble, yet exquisite museum," said Feledichuk. "Visitors from great distances have said that the trip was worth it. The knowledge and inspiration you gain from seeing these works is priceless."
Learn more about the Museum and current exhibits here: http://www.portagecollege.ca/Museum
More details of the #monthoftheartist posts by MOAPAA can be found on their social media accounts:
Jaime Davies, Corporate Communications Manager
780-623-5581 or email