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Livable Income

November 20 (International Children’s Day-UN) PEI Working Group for a Livable Income in partnershi [ ... ]

Alzheimer caregiver support

Alzheimer caregiver support groups are held in 3 locations across PEI. All are welcome to attend. T [ ... ]

Representing

David Meuse is a leading Mi’Kmaq drummer

by Ann MacNiven

David Meuse (photo: Ann MacNevin)A Mi’Kmaq drum group is part ceremony, part belief system, part spiritual release, and both energizing and exhaustingly demanding. It is also a deeply moving experience for the performer and the listener. Audience members listen transfixed as the unison of the drumming accompanies the precision of the voices. Then, all at once one voice rises above all, that of David Meuse, 34, who is originally from Indian Brook Mi’Kmaq Community, Nova Scotia, and is now living on Prince Edward Island.

During the Red Clay Trail, Charlottetown Pow Wow, in August 2012, David won the solo hand drum competition. In 2011, and again 2012, groups in which David sang and drummed were nominated for Best Drum Group at the Aboriginal Music Awards.

David performs alone or with the other members of Moose Crossing (Tee Cloud, Jay Joseph, Charlie Levi, Kyle McDonald, Julian Wells, Eric Caplin, and Cyril Julian). The eight members of this group are from 7 Mi’Kmaq communities in Nova Scotia.

David says, “Taking the time and pride to do it makes worth all of the years dedication. I become part of the connection with the symbolizing circle, making us all equal, as in the 4 directions of races of people. Men women and children all sit in the Creators ways of harmony.”

When asked about his place and role in the drum group David added, “Development happens in a set way to permit opportunities, and also allows hard work to come into play at the right moment. Our hard work is shown through heart and respect. This gives a great impression to the people who attend the Pow Wows of the Red Clay Trail starting in Scotchford in June and continuing in August with celebrations in Lennox Island, Charlottetown and Panmure Island each year. The spectacle of participating in annual events gives valuable experience. When we come together to celebrate we are all impacted by the Creator’s plan and the gift of togetherness.”

Focus, according to David, is the key to success. As a performer (singer, drummer, dancer, actor), director, DJ, student and volunteer, he has chosen a career path to accommodate his need to succeed. After dedication 20 years of his life to becoming more accomplished in his traditions and artistic works, he is currently studying at Holland College in the tourism and management stream. Here David is acquiring tools in building a professional outlook on tourism growth in his home community of Indian Brook Mi’Kmaq First Nation Community.

“This summer during my internship, as I represented Tourism PEI, the experience gave me a great awakening in creating a plan to build our community as a tourist destination. I would like to thank Tourism PEI, Holland College and Indian Brook.”

World Travels

Island artist Haley Lewis feels at home when she is away

by Ann MacNiven

Haley LewisYou say you haven’t seen much of Haley Lewis lately? So say we all. During the past ten years Haley has lived in Paris, a few cities in China and, more recently, in Vietnam. She has also traveled extensively in those countries, as well as in India, Nepal, and Burma.

Haley finally landed on PEI long enough for a good visit. She has now returned to China and, because we may not see her again for a while, I thought I would satisfy my curiosity about her life in faraway places.

When asked what set her on this path and lifestyle in pursuing her art, she stated matter-of-factly, “It just sort of happened naturally for me. I have always loved travelling, and since I don’t believe in accidents, I do believe now that there are people, places, and things that we are meant to experience in this life. The art is portable. It’s not only what you put down on canvas, but also very much in the way you choose to live.”

In response to a question about how Haley feels that exposure to diverse cultures has influenced her art, she states, “I don’t see how exposure to different cultures can not influence the work that you produce. The interesting thing about travel is that you are suddenly exposed to all kinds of art forms. For example, the intricate ‘thangka’ paintings of Tibet and Nepal or the works of the great European masters in the museums in Paris. I bought some wonderful ‘sand’ paintings in Burma. But I think what has left the biggest impression are the ancient Buddhist cave sculptures and paintings scattered all over China which I have visited. They are simply monumental in scale and artistic skill. My more recent work has definite Buddhist undertones.”

I wanted to know which country she found the most physically demanding. Haley was emphatic. “Definitely India! You are constantly bombarded with stimuli at every turn there. The images really add up in your head. I feel very inspired artistically and spiritually in India, but it is far too chaotic and hot to do any work there.”

On the emotional side, I also wanted to know if Haley finds it difficult to leave certain countries, and the people there, behind. “ Yes, of course, I form attachments to people wherever I go and sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye knowing I might never see them again.  As far as the art goes, I am continually frustrated by the backlog of ideas I have. I write a lot, though, and draw and take a lot of photos in hopes of one day integrating them into paintings but who knows.

Curiosity really got the better of me when I asked how difficult she finds it to plan and finance travel to remote locations. Haley keeps it simple. “I do it by teaching English. It’s very easy to get work in China and I like the lifestyle it offers me. Although teaching is a challenge I’ve discovered that I quite like it.”

When I asked her what about China makes it a good fit for her life, she responded by saying, “Ideally I would like to live half the year in Canada and the other half in a foreign country. I love coming home to the landscapes and fresh air in Canada. I always feel very creative when I come back here. But in China, even in the chaos of the crowded cities, I have found the time, away from the influences of the past, to reflect and look inward. In China I have found periods of real inner peace and simplicity. Living there also puts me closer in proximity to the countries I want to visit. For example, in 2010 I finally got to visit Burma because I was working in a neighbouring province in China. I love the accessibility.

I had to ask how Haley chooses the next destination to which she will travel. She replied, “ The choice of destination just sort of happens the more you travel. You meet others who tell you about a great place they’ve been to for example, but mostly I think it’s instinct. It’s just a feeling that you learn to trust about places to which you are most drawn.”

Determined to get below the surface, I probed further, asking if it ever makes her feel powerless when she meets people in real need in places where she lives and travels. “ Traveling in third world counties can be challenging because of the many cultural differences, the frequency of natural disasters, and, of course, the poverty that you constantly encounter. I feel quite comfortable with people who don’t have much, but still it’s hard to see people in some very unfortunate situations. It’s important to take breaks, get back to your own country once in a while, and digest what you have experienced. Doing art work is a good way to do that.”

When asked to share her favourite experience so far, Haley related, “Last summer I went up to northern India, to the Spiti valley, which borders Tibet and the Himalayan region. The only way to describe how wonderful it felt to visit such a remote and beautiful place is that it’s the closest I’ve come to experiencing life on another planet. The travel up there is rough, long, and at high altitudes. It’s absolutely breathtaking. There are 1000-year old monasteries built into the edges of cliffs at 400 meters above sea level. I love that ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ feeling that I can get from going to very remote places.”

I asked what Haley found easy to do and what more difficult. “One of the advantages that I’ve found I have is that I will go almost anywhere and I enjoy going alone. I think there are great opportunities in this. The easy part is going. The challenging part is the lack of time to produce work between destinations.”

Reflecting of the past 10 years, I wanted to know how Haley thought that she had changed and how this has influenced her art. “When I first started painting it was like an experiment and very energizing. Later it became clear that in order to sell anything I actually had to paint things that people wanted to buy. I think traveling has made me more my own person and has brought out more honesty in my work. I definitely paint more from my heart now.”

As a final observation for anyone brave enough to take the plunge into the world of extended travel, Haley quips, “I don’t think that most people would want to travel the way I do, for such extended periods, and, of course, its not necessary. However, I think that if they did want to, they would find that it’s not that difficult to do. It’s not always the ‘bed of roses’ that people might imagine it to be, but it certainly has enriched my life. All I can say is that I have found something that seems to work for me, both on a personal and an artistic level, and I am truly grateful.”

Life as a Life Model

Interview with Marie Gauthier about her special career

by Ann MacNiven

Marie Gauthier is a bright, well-spoken, well-traveled, young woman with an infectious smile. She takes a great deal of enjoyment from meeting new people and experiencing new things. Marie is an artist and a life-drawing model.

Life-drawing is a very important part of the study and practice of art. Life-drawing requires the presence of a live model—a real person, posing for the painter. These models may be nude, semi-draped (with some fabric on) or fully-draped (with clothes on). She also sits for portraits.

Marie very much enjoys her career as a life-drawing model.

Ann MacNevin: How did you get started as a life-drawing model?

Marie Gauthier: It all started when I replaced someone. I was in a life-drawing class as a student. One day the regular model was not available. Everyone was very disappointed. I then decided to offer myself as the model for that day. I had been exposed to life-drawing. It was familiar territory and I could already appreciate the needs of the artists in relation to the model.

AM: How did it become a career?

MG: After the preliminary network was established with workshops, to begin the process of turning modeling into a career, I became more willing to experiment with different types of poses. I was willing to deepen my knowledge of this type of career and to take on the challenges and the requirements of workshops. For instance, some need 3 or 5 minute rapid poses, and others might need long poses of up to 3 or 4 hours. During one session I spent 9 hours, over two days, in the same pose. Yes, there are breaks, but following the breaks the model must assume exactly the same pose. This takes a great deal of mental preparation and discipline to do it successfully. This is one aspect as to the length and variety of poses expected.

AM: Are there differences in your approach when working with professional artists as opposed to sitting for students in workshops?

MG: Yes. Another aspect of this career is to know with whom I will be dealing and adjusting to the needs of that person, group or professional. When dealing with professional painters I know that they usually want something in particular—a specific pose. In workshops with professionals and students, the model has more discretion over the types of poses but not the length of time a pose is held. For directed workshops, with students being directed by a teacher, one must know, “Are they beginners?” If so, I keep it to a simple pose. More advanced student want to be challenged. At this point the teacher might ask for something specific, like a play of light and shadow. To achieve this effect I sometimes use fabric to create negative space. The presence of the model is important because certain painters prefer to capture and paint the energy and attitude of the model.

AM: What do you like about the career of life-drawing model?

MG: There are a lot of things that I like about being a life-drawing model. I draw myself, so I know how important it is to have access to life-drawing models and what that brings too the learning process.

I like it because it makes me “stop.” It gives me quiet time. It’s almost like meditating. I like the atmosphere of the workshops where everyone is so focused on what they are doing. It gets very quiet and it is easy to treat this time as a meditation. I like the sounds of the charcoal on the paper and of pages turning. I enjoy seeing the products of individuals’ perceptions. It’s like a gift of the variety of the talent and intensity of each painter.

I like to see the pride and enthusiasm of the beginner, who after several weekly sessions, sees a finished drawing. I share in the process and also in their true sense of accomplishment.

I like it as a career because it offers a different perspective on the human body. There is no right or wrong. Every body type is interesting. Every body qualifies. Any aspect of the body, even flaws, could be an inspiration to the person doing the drawing.

It is very important to me to have a relaxed demeanor even in a demanding pose. I love the challenge of staying “alive” in the pose.

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Rainbow Valley—An Island Musical

ACT presents Hank Stinson’s adaptation at The Guild November 15, 16 & 17
The Guild As PEI’s [ ... ]

The Wife

Unti November 15
City Cinema 14A, coarse language, mature theme
Dir: Björn Runge, UK/Sweden, 100 min [ ... ]

Come Home to Us

Christmas programming at the Celtic Performing Arts Centre Select dates
Celtic Performing Arts Centr [ ... ]

Recent News & Articles

A gift of Island poetry: Chris Bailey

Curated by Deirdre Kessler Things My Buddy Said Oh, brother, growing up I’d get into trouble
like [ ... ]

A passion for cinema

Laurent Gariépy is screening the classics at City Cinema by Dave Stewart Anyone checking out City [ ... ]

Acadian showman

Profile: Christian Gallant by Jane Ledwell Forty-six musicians and step dancers took the stage at  [ ... ]