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Pauline Young, Mi’kmaq Artist

June 21, 2017

I was exposed to traditional art at a very young age. One of my first memories with my father Philip Young was running around on paper with my feet dipped in yellow paint. It’s a wonderful and happy memory and my first true memory of art exposure.

Father's Totem, Pauline Young

Father’s Totem

My father, an internationally renowned artist, exposed me to his art world at a very young age. I watched in awe as my father and my uncle carved and painted totem poles. As a child, I was encouraged to engage in the process and remember being hoisted up in the air to sit on a totem. But the experience of having the bottoms of my feet painted and running with the paint on the bottom of my feet and oozing through my toes is my most vivid.

Art is a tradition passed down from generation to generation in our family and its part of my blood and my heritage. Metepenagiag (Red Bank) First Nation, where my father grew up, is known as the oldest village in New Brunswick. His art memories started with drawing in the sand as a young boy. Life on the reserve was not easy back then. When very young, my life changed drastically. We were removed from our homes and placed in a non- indigenous family setting and I call those my years of assimilation. Today, art and its process plays an instrumental part in healing and regaining those lost years and the connection to my father, remembering that yellow paint and a sheet of paper.

Mother Earth's Resources, Pauline Young

Mother Earth’s Resources

My personal and emotional spiritual journey as a Mi’kmaq is portrayed in my art. Legends from Elders, the local Miramichi tales. The history becomes important to me, to imagine what it was like living back then, giving me a connection to the stories passed down to us. I love to imagine what it was like living here so many years ago.

I approach my creative process by going outdoors, shutting off the electronics and finding my spiritual path. An inspiration for a piece may come from harnessing my dogs to the sled, hitting the trails and searching with them for a birch tree. Off we go looking for that reference, or it may be as simple as sitting quietly in my teepee on my homestead in Whitney, NB.

I work in charcoal, oil and acrylic, depending what the inspiration needs. I have used barbwire, beach sand and other objects in my pieces. I prefer the ease of acrylics but am not limited to them. I am working many of my pieces into stained glass, a new medium for me, and I credit my cousin Jamie Patles for exposing me to this medium. Colored glass can change with the light a little every day and that’s what I love about it.

Hummingbirds, Pauline Young

Hummingbirds

My husband Tim and I bought our house three summers ago. Our own safe and peaceful space to  rejuvenate, create and meditate amongst the trees or with the sounds of nature. Inspiration everywhere. I will be participating in the new launch of the Miramichi Artist/Artisans Studio Tour (MAST) this July 29th and 30th. A celebration and opening of home studios from Neguac , Blackville, Miramichi, Derby and Whitney.

A fellow artist, Frannie Francis (from Metepenagiag), and I had applied for a grant through the artsnb’s Aboriginal Arts Capacity Building Program, which is now renamed the Equinox Program for Indigenous artists.  We organized a series of four Professional Development workshops; “How to document your artwork” with photographer Chris Giles, “Grant writing” with John Murchie, “An artist talk’ with Alan Syliboy (another Mi’kmaq artist) and “Creating a web presence” by Natawe’g Business Services.

These experiences, along with a strong felt destiny to follow in my father’s footsteps, are where my direction lies. I would like to thank artsnb for providing these programs for artists. It has given me the confidence and experience to prepare and to launch our ground breaking home studio tour event #MAST.

Wela’lin

Red-tailed Hawk, Pauline Young

Pauline is a visual artist who was first exposed to the creative world through her father Phillip Young, an internationally renowned artist, who painted the bottoms of her feet. She still recalls the smooth sensation of paint oozing between her toes. She draws her inspiration from him and the natural environment and is always looking down to see what the ground can offer, such as incorporating beach sand and red oxide sand into her paintings. Pauline is involved in the Art Tells Stories group project through the Bathurst Art Society and the Miramichi Art Core. She finds this project fascinating because Mi’kmaq historical images are very limited in the Miramichi area and the need to research and explore can produce and bring out the true magic of her Mi’kmaq heritage. She will also be participating in the new launch of the Miramichi Artist/Artisans Studio Tour this July 29th and 30th.

You can follow Pauline’s work on her Facebook page.

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