Jessica Winters and four student interns have been working hard over the last month to complete a mural on the side of Frank’s General Store in Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL. Winters is a painter, printmaker and textile artist from Makkovik, who developed her talents as a portrait artist early, selling her first acrylic painting at age fifteen.
Winters approached the Nunatsiavut Government with the idea to both create public art for Nunatsiavut and to provide arts training and opportunities in a community with a dearth of fine arts training available locally. “After travelling through the Arctic and seeing these types of public art projects elsewhere, I realized how public art and Inuit art is not showcased to that extent in Nunatsiavut communities,” says Winters about why she proposed the idea.
“We have a huge proportion of craftspeople and artists in our communities, we should be showcasing that and encouraging people to create, explore mediums and build confidence within one another.”
After Winters drew up a formal proposal—itself a training exercise for Winters as an artist—the Department of Education and Economic Development agreed to fund the project. With those funds, Winters hired four local high school students—Jesse James Ford, Seth Ford, Hannah Gear and Michelle Nochasak—to collaborate with. For most of them, this is the first time they have worked with paint. “I wanted to give these kids a chance to do something very unique and open a different part of the art world for them,” says Winters.
As part of the process, Winters asked the students to draw pictures of things they would like to see represented on the mural. The common theme shared between their images was an attraction to the land and animals, which then became the basis for the mural’s imagery.
By theming the mural around this common love, Winters hopes to engage the whole community—to “expand what it means to be an artist” in the minds of both local artists and residents, to bring greater visibility to the breadth of talents found in Nunatsiavut art and to highlight how important art is to Inuit culture.
Having started painting in early August, the project has one more painting and two more varnishing sessions to go, meaning it could be completed as early as September 5th. “I’d like to thank the Department of Education and Economic Development for supporting this idea and [other] educational and work experiences that are culturally relevant,” says Winter, who hopes that artists who encounter the mural will be inspired to try new things in their own practise.
See the mural in progress below!