Young artists’ imagination takes them to Calgary

Girls to demonstrate their painting skills at Glenbow Museum



As Beth McKenty sets out the afternoon’s art supplies, Ooleepeeka Ipeelie and Seepola Innuarak, both 13 years old, quietly find their seats. The girls select paintbrushes, and begin mixing primary colours into their own original hues. Then McKenty suggests a timed painting session. The girls have eight minutes.

“Sometimes I give them time limits, and I ask them to do something Inuit, or with very little background, and it’s astounding what we get,” McKenty says.

Ipeelie and Innuarak, who have been painting with McKenty for over two years, will be showing off their art skills this weekend at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. Neither girl has travelled South before, and both are very excited about their up-coming trip.

“There are many children who paint beautifully, but these two are consistent in coming and developing. It seemed natural to pick them. They’re friends and budding artists,” McKenty says.

McKenty moved to Iqaluit in October 1999. Immediately she noticed that there were a lot of children, with little to do. She invited some of the children into her home to paint, and they came, reluctantly. Those children brought their friends, and the regular painting sessions at McKenty’s home began. Four years later, it’s a rare day that doesn’t include painting.

“We think that if we can’t reproduce a chair that looks exactly like a chair, then we’re not an artist. I hope that children learn early that they have a surprising amount of talent. No one leaves without the feeling that they’re more artist than they knew,” McKenty says.

Both the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum and the Legislative Assembly have held exhibitions of the artwork done under McKenty’s supervision.

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