Métis Cree artist Sharon Rose Kootenay has been named the fourth Artist in Residence and Arts Ambassador to promote the value of the arts in Alberta.
From central Alberta, the Treaty 6 artist is a lifelong maker of traditional art forms and finds her inspiration in the prairie landscapes. Using geometric and floral beadwork design, Kootenay’s art tells a story of cultural identity and place, and affirms Indigenous world views, environmental stewardship and solidarity among humans.
Through her residency, Kootenay will create a two-part beadwork and mixed medium project titled Kihohkewin/Gone Visiting and Pihtikwe/Come In! The first part will interpret the highlights of travel, visiting with friends and family, picking up the threads of conversation and exploring traditions and landscapes along the way. The second part will encompass the Métis Cree concept of “Home Fire.”
Kootenay said as an artist of Métis Cree and Ukrainian ancestry, she is honoured and humbled to be selected.
“Our lives are enriched by creative practice, and craft is a medium that articulates memories, celebrates relationships, and contains stories, hopes and wishes. I look forward to meeting many Albertans and gaining a deeper appreciation and understanding of the diversity of our shared artistic practices and expression of cultural perspectives,” Kootenay said in a statement.
Alberta is the only jurisdiction in Canada to offer a provincial artist in residence program.
The residency, meant to inspire innovation in and increase appreciation of the arts and artists in Alberta, comes with a $25,000 grant for artist compensation and up to $25,000 for artist expenses.
“Sharon will enrich Alberta’s art scene through her talent and wisdom, as well as bring joy and inspiration to other artists and patrons of the arts. I also want to extend a sincere thank you and appreciation to Aeris Osborne, 2022 Artist in Residence and Ambassador. During her residency, Aeris created 10 bold impressionist paintings of historical buildings in cities and villages from across Alberta,” said Culture Minister Jason Luan.
Kootenay’s term began April 1 and runs to March 31, 2024.
As an arts ambassador and a voice for artists across the province, Kootenay will connect with Alberta communities through her project and program activities. Communities can invite Kootenay to speak about the arts in Alberta at local or cultural events. An online application is available on the Artist in Residence web page.
Kootenay was selected from a short list of seven applicants. Artists who were short-listed received $1,000 grants to begin their projects and/or advance their artistic practices and careers.
Short-listed artists include: Lisa La Touche, dance, Calgary; Janita Frantsi, dance, Edmonton; Tia A Kushniruk, dance and theatre, Edmonton; Shumaila Hemani, music (soundscape composition), Calgary; Kelsey Merkeley, visual arts (fine craft), Calgary; and Tara Vahab, visual arts (sculpture), Calgary.