Female artists unite for Lifegivers Series at Bearclaw Gallery: Opening April 27

(ANNews) – New works by three talented Indigenous female artists will be featured at Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton from April 27 to May 9 in a special series entitled ‘Lifegivers.’

The artists are clay sculptor Dianne Meili, acrylic on canvas artist Nancy Desjarlais and birch bark biting artist Pat Bruderer.

The theme ‘Lifegivers’ has a special meaning for each of these gifted artists.

Dianne Meili, Cree Metis potter said, “The Lifegiver creates and births life and teaches you to take risks, open yourself up to create, and leave the fear of failure behind.”

Art by Dianne Meili, on exhibit at Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton.

Dianne has been “playing in the mud” for many years, creating pottery that begs to be picked up and touched. She creates sculpture and decorative bowls intended to make viewers feel a connection between themselves and the Creator, as well as all living things – animal and human. Spending hours shaping and carving each piece, there is a true symbiosis between Dianne and her medium. She is both respectful of, and thankful to, the powers that allow her to share her creative talents. In exchange, it seems she has been rewarded with clay that yearns to hold her intensely animated shapes and glazes and firings that give a unique finish to her spiritual vessels. 

Dianne is also a talented writer. She was editor of Windspeaker and she also produced AMMSA radio programs for several years, including One People Many Lives, which profiled Aboriginal people in Alberta, and was a radio host for CFEW. She profiled Indigenous Elders in a book titled “Those who know” and she is now a motivational speaker and owner of Eshia Books, a Stony Plain publishing house aimed at printing books that spark interest in Indigenous cultures.

“Nature gives us life,” explained artist Nancy Desjarlais. “When I connect with the natural world, my inner world is nourished.”

Nancy spent her early years on the Fort McMurray First Nation Reserve #468.  This close connection with nature established a touchstone that could be retrieved in her journey through life.  Like many First Nations children, she was removed from her home.  She was put into a convent first, then foster homes.  Consequently, she lost her language and cultural ties. Later, as she reconnected with her family roots, she was inspired to learn her culture through art and crafts.

Art by Nancy Desjarlais.

“I was happiest when I was creating, whether it was sewing moccasins for my babies or painting a picture of a sunset,” she remarked.

Nancy has won awards in the Peace Hills annual Native Arts Competition. She has taught art to children and adults.  She has shown her work in B.C., the Northwest Territories and Alberta. 

“Finding peace with my past, practicing daily gratitude, loving the earth, communicating a personal vision and travelling with a light heart are my main objectives right now,” she noted,  “and art is my vehicle.”

Art by Pat Bruderer

Artist Pat Bruderer explains her perspective, “As Life-givers, we have been given special gifts to channel the love, light, and water from our ancestors – which goes on for eternity!”

Pat is a Metis artist born in Churchill, Manitoba. Her mother belongs to the Peter Balantyne Band. She now lives on the Mosakahiken Cree Nation Reserve in Manitoba and is the mother of five children. Her interest in art began as a child, when she would watch and assist her mother in the traditional crafts of the Cree. Birch bark biting was one of these traditions that Pat continues. She believes that it has many teachings; patience, respect, kindness, creativity, medicine, imagination and sharing. She believes they are like people, no two are the same and every one of them is special and beautiful in their own way. She strongly believes that Aboriginal people should strive to maintain their traditional art forms.

Pat’s works are found in museums and galleries throughout Canada, including the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature.

‘Lifegivers’ will be on exhibit at Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton from April 27 to May 9. The gallery is conveniently located in the Oliver Arts District at 10403 124 Street. Check out their website at Bearclawgallery.com.


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