How are Regina Indigenous Artists responding to Canada’s ‘150th’?
Leading up to July 1st, I have had the opportunity to connect with Regina born (or raised) artists to ask them how their art will reflect or protest Canada’s upcoming ‘birthday.’
I had the chance to speak with Madison Pascal, a Regina born raised Métis artist. Madison is an advocate who has recently focused on connecting her art with her Indigenous background, while also learning about her roots from Pasqua First Nation. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Regina, majoring in painting and drawing.
Q: “How does your Indigenous Heritage influence your work?”
A: I have only recently started incorporating more visual aspects of my indigenous heritage into my works. I have always included flora and fauna in my works and my pieces are very personal and let me embed emotions into them. I have found this quite difficult to navigate because I am not visually First Nations looking but I want to honor my Kookum with my art.
Q: “When did your passion for art begin?”
A: My mom was a big influence in my passion for the arts. She would always have crafts for me or colouring to do and would do it with me too. I also was enrolled at the Neil Balkwill arts center. My mom has a story that she likes to tell about when she knew I would grow up to be artistic. She was making supper one night and was peeling onions; I took the brown skin and made a little ‘fairy’ out of it.
Q: “Which artists do you feel inspired by?”
A: This is such a large question; I am inspired by both indigenous and non-indigenous artists. It’s important as an artist to know about creators locally and globally. I have for years admired Alex Janvier, something about the fluidity of his line work and the boldness of his colour use draws me into his paintings. Edward Poitras’ work also excites me; my favorite exhibition is 13 Coyotes. Christi Belcourt is also high on my inspired list.
The Art Nouveau movement has been a huge influence in my own work in particular Alphonse Mucha. I love the romantic feel of the bodies draped in beautiful fabrics and how the women are adorned like goddesses. His pieces also use dramatic lines and colours, which, I am very drawn to. There are also many artists that are emerging that I find myself inspired by like: Kari-Lise Alexander, Dorielle Caimi, Alex Louisa, Jenny Morgan and Mary jane Ansell.
Q: “Which environments do you feel inspired by?”
A: I am most inspired when I’m in nature. I love flowers, animals, people, mountains, forests, the Aurora Borealis and thunderstorms. I like things that just happen, things that we don’t really have control over.
Q: “What do you do when you don’t feel creative or inspired?”
A: When I am facing an artist block, I find that going for a walk with my camera helps. I love photographing birds and the prairie plants. If I’m in a real creative rut, that’s usually time for a change of scenery or a trip to be planned.
Q: “Do you feel like growing up in Regina, or perhaps Canada, has influenced your art? How so?”
A: I think so, yes. I love being able to drive a few minutes and I’ll be out of town where I can stargaze or watch thunderstorms or the Northern lights. The weather and sprawling landscape is common theme in my works.
Q: “How do you feel your environment and upbringing has shaped you as an artist?”
A: Without a doubt my environment has shaped me, if I didn’t have family support in my youth and in my journey through my Fine Arts degree I probably would be working a job that sucks the passion from me.
Q: “What are your feelings towards Canada’s ‘150’ and do you have any pieces in-the-works specifically for Canada’s celebration?”
A: With the 150 celebration I really hope there is an equal celebration of First Nations culture and of Canadian culture because without the two we wouldn’t be Canada. I created a drawing for the ‘Canada 150’ exhibit with the Scott Nicholson Fine Arts Gallery. My drawing wasn’t so much a celebration piece as it was homage to my Kookum.
Q: “What was the process of this ‘Back to My Roots’ piece?”
A: My process for “Back to My Roots” was to create a drawing that looked like Metis beading. In a sort of graphic trompe-l’oeil manner. I designed it to have iconic Saskatchewan images such as: Western Red Lily, golden wheat, and of course Maple leaves.
Q: “What relationships were built in the creation of this ‘Back to My Roots’ piece?”
A: This piece allowed me learn a bit more about my Dad and my Kookum. She had taught my Dad how to bead but it was never passed down to me. My Kookum passed away February of 2008 so it has been almost a decade since she left and it felt like the right time to start honoring her and my Indigenous heritage. She was unfortunately a victim of the Residential School abuse and even though she dealt with such horrible things she was the most kind and giving person I have had the privilege of knowing. ‘Back to My Roots’ shows the resilience and tenderness of the prairies and of my Kookum.
Q: “What art and projects can we look forward to viewing and experiencing from you in the future?”
A: I am working on another piece for the July exhibit with Scott Nicholson titled ‘The Four Seasons” and I also have a large portrait series titled “The Breath That Hangs Somewhere Between the Sand and the Stardust” which I hope to have completed in 2018.
To view more of Madison’s work, check out the link: Madison Pascal Art