Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Art of Kristy Cameron

To say that Kristy Cameron is an up and coming artist would be accurate, but with a 21 year old daughter who is also an artist and entering law school at Lakehead University it helps to say that Kristy has only relatively recently found her m├ętier as a painter. 
     To be more accurate, not so long after discovering more about her Metis roots, Kristy found success reworking traditional imagery to create bold and breathtaking original work, some the result of substantive commissions. Self-discovery as an artist came hand in hand with Kristy’s interest to further explore her Metis background.
Map of Dreams by Kristy Cameron
      As a teenager who liked to paint and draw, Kristy’s favourite subject matter was landscape. She painted the kind of scenery that was easy to observe, not requiring much in the way of interpretation. Although her parents had woodland styled art in their home it would be years later that she would return find inspiration in woodland art.
     In the interim studied at Lakehead University, raised a family and taught primary grades and  special education at North Star Community School in Atikokan.
     It wasn’t until 2005 that Kristy got back into painting in a big way when she began tracing her roots and discovered a rich and mixed history stemming from the Red River settlements near Winnipeg, which was a hub of the west. Voyageurs who married into First Nations eventually gave Ojibwe, Cree and the Huron Nations, amongst others, connections with the fur-trading commpanies.
      Kristy explained how she found a renewed love for the woodland imagery. “I love the nature aspect of it. I spend a lot of time observing and sketching details in nature. If the content is historic, then research plays an important part. Instinct is involved too. Meanings and spiritualism add to the feelings that the paintings evoke. I find it a very exciting type of work to do. I started gradually and had exhibits and got a lot of feedback the community, as well as the Ontario Arts Council when they came through Atikokan.”
     With influence from the works of Roy Thomas and Norval Morrisseau Kristy mixed the traditional with contemporary styles. The awesome painting above, Map of Dreams, is a visual pairing with Rodney Brown's song of the same name. Kristy explains, "It's a representation of David Thompson's map of the North-West Territory." The painting combines map-like river flows done with tiny white dots of paint on a black surface that looks also like a giant brain. The flat 2D dimension of woodland art is combined with the fantastical 3D element of a floating world akin to a Roger Dean (Yes album covers) painting. The animals parade across the surface and some seem to fall and float from the surface. It's a fun and wonderful image combining air, water, and earth.
     Most helpful on her path as a painter were a host of commissioned work, which included creating imagery for the renowned Metis author and speaker, David Bouchard. Bouchard has written a number of popular books for children and adults. Kristy took a year to create imagery for the book, Seven Sacred Teachings: Niizhwaaswi gagiikwewin and painted imagery for a follow-up book titled, Dreamcatcher and the Seven Deceivers. Both books are relatively recent productions and involve educational additions such as a CD and Internet links.
     Kristy is planning to write and illustrate her own books in the future. Recently she has created imagery of local singer and songwriter, Rodney Brown's fur-trading songs. The Ontario Legislative building in Toronto will be displaying one of her paintings. And you can find her work at the Ahnishnabee Gallery at 18 Court St. here in Thunder Bay.
     Kristy’s daughter, Kelly Duquette, has a BA in Aboriginal Studies and Fine Art and will be returning from Ottawa to study law at Lakehead University. The two had a show at the Atikokan Pictograph Gallery last year where Kelly’s work had more of a political and activist angle. Kelly is inspired by Aboriginal culture and recent activism to strengthen Aboriginal communities across the country.

     We can look forward to more wonderful work from both Kristy and Kelly in the future, although, as Kristy points out with a laugh, “It will be a while before Kelly has time to get back into painting.”

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