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by Isabel Mosseler
Authentic native art has risen in popularity in recent years, providing more opportunities for artists and artisans from Nipissing First Nation (NFN) and beyond. That resurgence was obvious at the 5th annual Anishinaabe Art Show on Sat., Feb. 24 in the Nbissing Secondary School gym, where both local and visiting artists displayed their work to an appreciative crowd.
Jane Commanda, chief organizer and acting Cultural Events Coordinator for NFN, was pleased with the 13 exhibitors. “We get funding from the Ontario Arts Council and what we do is try to feature local artists, and to especially entice the young artists to come up, invite them to come display what they have to share. We also have the craft vendor tables, so artists can share whatever arts and crafts… I find it gives good exposure.” The art show was a combination of both traditional and modern approaches, dealing with traditional Anishnaabe themes.
“A lot of [the artists] are from Nipissing and some are from the outlying area, as far away as Manitoulin,” Commanda adds.
Some artists, like Donald Chrétien, take the opportunity to come back home. Originally from NFN, he was back for a fourth year, selling reproductions of his artwork at a steady pace. Chrétien boasts a 30-year career as a successful artist in the Woodland tradition, working with the likes of writer, storyteller and scholar Basil Johnston. With an impressive body of work behind him (www.donaldchretien.com), he delivers workshops to communities throughout Ontario and just finished with McMichael Gallery the week prior to the NFN show.
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Donald Chrétien, originally from Nipissing First Nation, boasts a 30-year career as an artist working in the Woodland tradition, in acrylic, ink and mixed media.