Artfest Kingston ~ First Nations Pavilion
Artfest Kingston wanted to make a significant addition to its arts programming to mark this momentous 150 year milestone in our Canadian journey. We decided that is would be most fitting to celebrate the art and culture of our First Nations. This promises to be just the beginning of a feature that will grow and evolve each year.
Our First Nations Pavilion will showcase three professional Indigenous artists. They will also serve in a mentoring role for six Indigenous youth artists (age 18-29). Additionally, we will feature First Nations cultural programming that will include storytelling, traditional craft demonstrations and workshops, dance performance, drumming etc.
Organizing and recruiting for the Pavilion will be led by Jay Bell Redbird and his partner Halina Stopyra. Jay is a very accomplished First Nations artist born in Ottawa, now living in the Toronto Area, and a member of the Wikwemikong unceeded reserve.
Jay says of his work: “I paint from my heart and soul, viewing Aboriginal people through their life ways, as they once lived, and as they strive to continue to live as loving, caring and peaceful people. The teachings and stories I learn flow to the canvas expressing ideas and images through my detailed woodlands style of art. A style that I connect with as part of my history passed down from generation to generation. I paint legends and dreams, which bring to life the animal spirits and all of Creation. My lines do not lead a life of prejudice they follow the red road, mino bimaadiziwin as I do, following the teachings of the Three Fires Midewiwin Society.”
Halina specializes in commissioned paintings, which are personalized expressions of her clients’ unique inner spirits. She starts with a free, in-depth consultation in which she listens to your story, connecting ruling planet, archetype, symbols, ideal natural settings, colours, and elements. Her portraits are frequently rendered on doors (as a doorway represents a passage or transformation) and Halina’s personalized portraits offer those represented a reminder that transformation is always there, just beneath the surface, ready to take flight.
There are 134 First Nations in the province of Ontario and 634 recognized First Nations in Canada. Data from the National Household Survey (NHS) show that 1,400,685 people had an Aboriginal identity in 2011, representing 4.3% of the total Canadian population. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in the Tyendinega Mohawk Territory are the closest to Kingston with just over 8,000 members.
Notable artists include John Hill and David Robert Maracle in Tyendinega, Peter Hawke Hill in Kingston and Sarah Cram Miller in Trenton.