Aboriginal Artists in Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewan, Alberta

After Ontario and British Columbia, Alberta has the third largest Aboriginal population in Canada. The Aboriginal population graced Canada with its unique, contemporary art which can be found at most Canadian art galleries.

Alberta is home to the prestigious Fort McMurray Art Gallery, where indigenous art lines the walls. There is an abundance of aboriginal artists in Alberta; here is a list of several artists to look out for. And, you never know, you may just leave the gallery with a painting of your very own to hang on the walls of your Fort McMurray apartment rental.

Frederick R. McDonald: Frederick is a Woodland Cree painter, born in Fort McMurray, Alberta. He spent his childhood living along the Athabasca River, where he was exposed to aboriginal culture. As a result, he gained a deep appreciation for their values and way of life. He assimilated to the culture, hunting and trapping was even one of his main sources of income, until he left the aboriginal way of life to pursue his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Calgary.

Frederick uses a variety of styles and expressions in his paintings. When asked in an interview, what Frederick shows in his art, he answered, “four things.” The four things mentioned include: the history of Aboriginal people in North America (from both a historical perspective, and from his perspective), the memories of his people and his childhood when growing up along the Athabasca river, spiritual communication, and a look into the future of Aboriginal people.

Frederick refers to his style of art as a reflection of the colour of his people. This inspired him to write his book, Ancestral Portraits: The colour of my people. His book gives you a glimpse into his life, and showcases a repertoire of his art.

Crystal Lee Clark: Crystal Lee Clark is a freelance, multimedia artist, who was born and raised in Fort McMurray, Alberta. She was exposed to a large diversity of cultures and landscapes through her academic and professional career. Having graduated from the Enowkin International School of Indigenous Writing and Visual Arts, she was deeply moved to specialize in digital, and mixed media Aboriginal art.

Crystal has the unique style of mixing art with technology. She is currently in the process of attaining her Masters of Educational Technology Studies, and has already attained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia.

Crystal’s latest accomplishment was getting first place in the Peace Hills Trust annual art competition in both 2011 and 2012.

Jane Ash Poitras: Jane is a Cree artist, born in the isolated aboriginal community of Fort Chipewan, Alberta. She was orphaned at the age of six when her mother died of tuberculosis. She pursued a University degree in microbiology, and she followed her degree with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She then completed a Masters of Fine Arts at Yale University. It was at Yale where Jane was influenced by non-Western art. Jane’s work is inspired by aboriginal history, culture and politics.

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