Whapmagoostui artists draw attention at Aboriginal arts exhibition

Share Button

A recent art exhibit in Quebec’s Eastern Townships featured a mother-daughter duo from Whapmagoostui. Natasia and Saige Mukash stole the show during the month-long “Aboriginal Women’s Art: A Celebration” event at Studio Georgeville.

While the two have similar upbringings, their artwork is worlds apart. Natasia Mukash, inspired by traditional art forms, paints in oil; her daughter Saige draws in ink.

“I was inspired by illustrations in books,” said Saige. “I would collect books just for the illustrations. My artwork isn’t considered Native, it’s more surreal and I base a lot of it on my dreams.”

Natasia, 37, is a veteran of shows like this, but this is 19-year-old Saige’s first exhibit outside Whapmagoostui.

Saige Mukash

Saige Mukash

"Tranquil" sketch by Saige Mukash

“Tranquil” sketch by Saige Mukash

Natasia remembers her first art show as a young woman, accompanied by her infant daughter. “I brought her with me and we painted onsite. It was the first time I’d painted in front of people because I was so shy. But after that show I was hooked. I participated in every art show I could,” she said.

Her own mother, an art teacher, sparked Natasia’s early creativity. It’s an experience she passed on to her offspring. “All four of my children are artists and musicians,” she boasted.

“I remember being small and she would bring me into her studio,” recalled Saige. “My mother was my inspiration.”

In some ways she feels typecast, however.

“When I say I’m an Aboriginal artist and then people look at my work, it’s not what they’re expecting,” said Saige. “They’re expecting animals and teepees and I don’t do that. When big corporations ask for artwork, they kind of want things that can be tokenizing.”

Recently, she’s decided to incorporate some traditional elements and stories into her work while maintaining her individuality, “I’ve been working on a series of traditional pieces, but I made them in my own style,” said Saige.

It’s not easy being an artist in Great Whale. “It was difficult to get art supplies as a child,” explained Natasia. “Some companies try to charge ridiculous fees to ship art supplies up north.”

But there’s certainly no lack of artistic ability in the community. “I’ve seen so much talent in the youth in writing, painting and dancing,” said Natasia. “I feel sad because there are only certain outlets for them.”

Natasia Mukash

Natasia Mukash

Though it’s tough at times, for Saige and Natasia the choice to be a career artist is one neither regrets.

“Art helps me express myself. I can’t imagine myself without it,” said Saige.

“I was really little and I knew I would be an artist, that this was going to be a life-long dream. This is the dream job for me,” said Natasia.

 Though it’s just the beginning for Saige, there’s a feeling of things coming full circle. “It was amazing that we had our first art show together, since I brought her to my first art show over 18 years ago when she was just a baby,” said Natasia. “A lot of artists up north don’t think they can do this full time, and I think that my family is proof that, yes, you can do it full time. You can survive off your dreams. By some miracle, everything always works out.”

Wounded Courage (Painting by Natasia Mukash)

“Wounded Courage” by Natasia Mukash


Share Button

Comments are closed.