From canvas to clothes: how a renowned Cree artist is making her art and designs prêt-à-porter

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Whapmagoostui’s Natasia Mukash is known as a talented painter and visual artist. Now she is taking her traditionally inspired work in a new direction. She’s making her artwork wearable by designing textiles and printing her designs onto premade garments.

“I went to LaSalle College (in Montreal) and studied Fashion Design, with a concentration in costume design because I wanted to work in theatre. After graduating, I took a break from my artwork and thought that I would give designing a shot and see how it goes. It was during this time, I took a course in textiles and I learned how to make patterns and discovered that I was good at it,” said Mukash.

Her transition from art to textiles didn’t happen overnight; it is something she worked on over the last five years. After she graduated from LaSalle she experienced a “great deal of life” – which included burnout, surgery and childbirth – before returning to her artistic calling.

“It was something that I dreamed of doing since childhood. It’s funny, the image I always had in my head was of Coco Chanel with her patterns outlined with white chalk. This is what I wanted to do – create things for people to wear.”

In moving back to Whapmagoostui, Mukash hoped that her desire to design and be creative with fabric and patterns would return. It took some time, but Mukash is now producing designs that are transposed onto garments and making prints on synthetic fabrics that can be purchased by the metre.

After getting her project off the ground, the next stop was finding a company that prints textile designs. But partnering with a company that allowed the artist to make a decent profit and to have good quality control proved difficult. However, thanks to a suggestion made on Instagram, Mukash found the company she is now working with. Oddly enough, a person she already knew owns it.

“What’s funny is that I knew him because he used to make t-shirts and caps for CerAmony [her husband’s band]. When I looked at his website, I realized I could make leggings and other clothing. Then I saw a section that stated, ‘Create your own fabric’ and I was like ‘What?’”

That’s what Mukash had always dreamed of.

These days, Mukash has her own page on the Art of Where website, where she sells her garments, including leggings, dresses, shirts, scarves and shawls as well as textiles. She hopes to add a few more items but slow internet speeds in Whapmagoostui are an obstacle. Soon she’d like to find a company to make her prints in bulk so they can be sold at the local store.

For the moment, Mukash has only been able to get two different kinds of fabric to print her designs on. But, she is hopeful that other fabrics, like cotton, become more available in the future because her company is expanding.

To see her goods, check out:

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