When we explore something as “simple” as a canoe from functional, cultural, and historical perspectives, we quickly realize that these vehicles served both function and  form.  Those who designed and built canoes over the last centuries were artists, too.  Their skills were functional and creative.  Life skills if you will. Even Carty said that “it is a marvel in design and technology.”

Though we’re disappointed to take down last month’s exhibit, we look forward to making way for 27 new artworks created by gouache and pencil artist, David Carty. November 5 will be the day we put up another full exhibit called The Canoe and Its People.

David Carty, Gouache and Pencil Artist

David Carty is a Canadian-borne artist who has had an extensive career in the arts industry as a scenic illustrator and mural artist. He graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax with a degree in Fine Arts. During his study years, he was under the wing of Nicolas J. Sokcevic, the chief illustrator for NASA during the Apollo program. He has had contributing work on the early CG systems, including the Dicomend – D38 Design Station, the General Electric Genigraphics CG system and as well as on Mac computers.

In recent years, he spends his time creating murals and scenic illustrations for film and television, as well as teaching art education to students in and out of school. Many of his murals have cultural and historic significance requiring in-depth research for accuracy. According to David, he has found the research to be as challenging as the art process itself.

The Canoe and Its People

There is no denying that the canoe is his muse. The majority of his artwork tells a story of Indigenous and Metis people canoeing through the waters of Canada. David’s creation boasts astounding technique on figure and detail. His hands, being capable of making the ripples of water seem like what it is in real life, the colours adding depth and distance, and the canoe bearing its weight and length above the waters and beneath the rower’s feet. There is a sensation of serenity and calmness in their wading. Somehow you get a glimpse of the past, and a confirmation that the Indigenous people pioneered and thrived not just in Canadian land, but also in its waters.

When we asked David the story behind his exhibit, he said:

“The province of Manitoba is home to many Indigenous and Metis peoples that are the forbearers to our collective history as a nation.  The design and development of the birch bark canoe was, in no small feat, a marvel in design and technology. Our nation as it stands today was guided and built by the unsung Indigenous and Metis folks of early Canada.  The canoe, in a large part, played a key role in what we call Canada today.

“Arrived Paddling” in Pencil
“Mazinaabikinigan” in Gouache on illustration board
“Sunset Paddle” in Gouache on illustration board

This amazing historical exploration creates images that tell their own stories, and it all comes together, all comes to life in our hall gallery next month.  It’s a special experience – one I know you’ll not want miss. More will be shown at the Gallery Exhibit including an eight-foot-long framed piece called “The Nor’Westers” which is painted with acrylic on sign board.

We are inviting you to visit the Art Gallery on November 5, 2021. A virtual gallery will also be made available for those who prefer to view it online.

This article is in collaboration with: David Klassen