CANMORE – Celebrating the unique and creative voice of up-and-coming Alberta artists, artsPlace will be hosting the annual RISE Emerging Artist exhibit starting on Monday (Dec 9).
The works of Cree Métis artists Delreé Dumont and Jesse Gouchey will be featured in the gallery this year.
Dumont describes her paintings as “beadwork on canvas.” Using the practice of pointillism, Dumont adds depth to her paintings making them appear three-dimensional.
The vibrant and vivid colours she uses and subject matters depicted on canvas seem to resonate with people, Dumont said.
“The meaning behind my painting reflects a lot of what I go through as a person and what other people are going through in general,” Dumont said, explaining that her paintings reflect her life and feelings.
One can look at the colour choices and experience the mood she was in when they were created. As an Indigenous woman, Dumont said she is compelled to create and display paintings that reflect her experiences in life.
“Hopefully my paintings will help people understand more about our culture and traditions."
She has always worked to support Indigenous arts and culture, she said, including in her “past-life” in the oil and gas sector.
“I always promoted the beauty of our arts and culture, and dances and singing,” Dumont said. “I’ve gone full-circle in that aspect.”
Dumont's section of the exhibition features a quote from Lois Riel: “My people will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”
The quote will be paired with Dumont's Métis sash in celebration of her culture.
“That quote by Louis Riel really resonates with me,” she said. “It’s true, because our arts and culture are so vibrant now. I absolutely love the fact that that part of the culture is really coming up to the forefront.”
Dumont had her own gallery in Didsbury – Delreés Native Art Gallery – but is now looking to connect with galleries in the Bow Valley. She closed the business in June 2018 after her husband’s death.
“I just need to see where this takes me as an artist,” Dumont said. “For me, there’s something deep down inside that I need to do – I want to help other people in their healing journey too.
“I need to keep creating. It’s always been my mandate, not only as an artist in this point as a life, but when I was in oil and gas, it was always important to teach people the beauty of art and culture.”
It is a thrilling feeling being embraced as an individual artist, she said, adding it is essential that people understand why Indigenous art and culture is important.
“Our people have been subdued, they’ve always been put on,” she said. “We’ve always been shut down and now this opportunity, the Emerging Artist Program, is awesome because I think a lot of artisans are scared, scared of what other people think of their work.
"To put yourself out there it makes me nervous, but it’s what you’re meant to do to showcase your work, and showcase your culture and be proud of it.”
Jesse Gouchey describes his art as nature-based with lots of animals and landscapes.
“When you see nature it’s kind of rare a lot of times, especially wild animals,” Gouchey said. “I find wild animals look really beautiful and a lot of what I believe in is nature-based as far as energy and spirits.”
Gouchey said he hopes people are able to truly appreciate the majesty of nature when they look at his paintings.
“I don’t really paint off the top of my head most of the time,” he said. “I look for the most rare, the most unique and the most epic moment that you would re-create.”
He was especially drawn to explore birds in his creations, Gouchey said, because of how dynamic they are and the complexity of their feathers.
“I see birds in certain situations and they guide me in certain directions," he said.
“Definitely in some more epic times in my life, I’ve looked up and there’s been some kind of really rare sightings – I feel that birds are there to tell me things.”
Gouchey’s talents extend to the art of filmmaking and his award-winning stop-motion animated 2011 short film Spirit of the Bluebird will be showcased during the exhibition. The film, co-directed with Xstine Cook, uses a spray-painted fence and voice over to share the story of Indigenous mother and grandmother Gloria Black Plume, who was murdered in the Ramsey area of Calgary in 1999 and the injustice her family faced in dealing with the Canadian legal system. The film combines Gouchey's painted images with hand drumming and audio from family members telling her story.
“I thought it would be beautiful to animate and metaphorically tell the story of how she died – even though the story was dark you could still show the beauty of people,” Gouchey said. “It all came together really nicely.”
A man of many talents, Gouchey recently launched his own clothing line featuring hand-drawn creations that will be for sale during the exhibition.
The clothes are created using diluted bleached paintbrushes to create epic images based on his nature work.
Gouchey said he is focused on showcasing the diversity of his work in the RISE Emerging Artists exhibition.
“It’s one of my stronger points,” he said. “I don’t like to be confined to one kind of medium. I think that the more you and the more you can increase your skill level the more ... doors open.”
The Rise Emerging Artist event is held annually at artsPlace and serves as a mentorship program designed to promote Alberta artists in the Bow Valley paired with a mentorship with an art professional.
Nicole Fougère, artsPlace program manager, said the exhibit can play a critical role in helping connect artists on the rise with commercial galleries in the Bow Valley area.
“We specifically try to showcase artwork that is perhaps more edgy, or artwork by emerging artists,” Fougère said. “In that sense, we’re working with other supporters in the community.”
ArtsPlace is committed to building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, she added, explaining that this is done through sharing, education and cultural understanding.
The 2019 RISE Emerging Artist exhibition will be on display at artsPlace Hub Gallery from Dec. 9-Jan. 16. An opening reception will be held on Monday (Dec. 9) at 5:30 p.m.