There are some incredible pieces of art on our wall at SAC right now. Artist, Frankie Hargreaves, has created a beautiful exhibit for our Hall Gallery, and she speaks eloquently about the inspiration for her works. Each of the 21 watercolors on display tells of culture and folklore. It is an exquisite example of visual storytelling.
Frankie Hargreaves, Watercolour Artist
An aspiring beekeeper hailing from a small village of 400 people, Frankie grew up on a hog farm in south-western Manitoba. From a young age she showed a keen interest in using art as a tool of self-expression, first starting with pencil sketching and eventually finding her way to watercolors at the age of 17.
Nature is the primary inspiration for her art as well as her life-long fascination with folklore; she often incorporates both in her artwork to tell stories that have been nearly forgotten with the passage of time. Bold and contrasting shades are a distinguishable feature of her art as well as odd but beautiful subject matter.
Frankie loves spending time with her husband, Andrew and her angry chihuahua, Gulliver. If you ever want to find her, check your local hiking trails where she will likely be found with a bird book and binoculars in hand.
From Frankie’s Own Accounts
Frankie told us a story about one of her paintings, and this is what she said:
“One of my favorite paintings I did for this exhibit is a watercolor piece titled ‘Secret Spirit’. Its of a white moose walking through a pine forest with very bright green northern lighter behind him. The inspiration for this painting actually came from a conversation my best friend and I had had together late one evening in her garage a few months back. We were talking about how embracing your ancestry and familial traditions can play a very important part in your self identity and creating a sense of belonging that you normally wouldn’t find in other places.
She is Ojibwe and her culture has always been very important to her; she has shared many beautiful stories of her traditions and folklore with me and two of them stood out to me the most- the white moose and the northern lights. In Ojibwe culture white moose are considered sacred and are seen as symbols of endurance and survival- to harm one is to commit a horrible disrespect to nature and tradition. Another belief that is held in her culture is that when their spirits leave this world, they will find their ways to the sky and reunite their long lost ancestors and family.
When you see the northern lights move across the sky you are seeing the dancing and rejoice of the spirits after reconnecting with their loved ones. Both of these beliefs struck a chord with me and something about these two stories specifically I found to be very beautiful. I wanted to bring these two stories together on paper for her.”
Culture: It’s Part of All of Us
In Frankie’s own words, her entire exhibit was inspired by a desire to dive into culture, tradition, and the art of storytelling, preserving history and traditions that are passed down through generations. While the stories that lie at the heart of each piece may not be obvious to anyone other than the artist, the skill at work here creates whimsy that gives Frankie an opportunity to share a part of her story with us, while opening the door for each viewer to create their own stories out of the same visual experience.
Culture inspires us every day. We celebrate that culture and work to preserve it by eating traditional foods, wearing traditional clothing, and maybe painting stories from our past.
Art. Language. Food. It’s all a part of our own cultural background that’s worth preserving…and worth sharing.
Folks, this is more than JUST paint on a canvas. This is storytelling in a powerful way, and it preserves history.
Carve out a little time to visit our Hall Gallery, and immerse yourself in the work of Frankie Hargreaves. You wont’ regret it. Maybe you will think back to a part of your own culture, and try your hand at capturing it. Maybe with words in a journal, music on staff paper, or paint on a canvas.