From Nov. 1 to 12, the Cre8ery Gallery and Studio will be hosting Juncture: Modern Métis Culture by local Métis artist Nicole LeClair.
As a single mother, LeClair focused on her corporate career in marketing and advertising for 25 years before diving into life as a full-time artist.
“I really wanted to get back to my community, my culture, so I took a job as a communications director at the Manitoba Metis Federation,” LeClair said.
“I was so lucky to be a part of that group because I learned a lot about Métis culture and ceremony and more of the spiritual aspect. I’ve always found a connection to animals and Earth, and I always feel more at peace when I’m around water for some reason.”
LeClair’s style is influenced by Mother Nature, the spirit of animals and a unique beaded style that reflects Métis tradition.
“A big factor of me being an artist too was that I was really sick,” she said.
“The only think I could do to relieve the pain was stand […] so I could either cook or paint.”
Through painting, LeClair was able to heal, refocus and rebuild after decades of stressful and overwhelming work in a corporate industry. She harnessed the gift she had used for others and used it for herself.
“It literally healed me, you know when you’re sick like that […] I was like ‘OK, I just got to get going,’ and it gave me a purpose,” she said.
“I can’t imagine going back to anything other than what I’m doing now.”
Connecting art to her Métis heritage is central to LeClair’s work.
“It gives me an opportunity to share my culture,” she said.
“There’s a lot of things that people don’t realize that Métis people do, or have done, and I’m really proud to be a part of sharing that knowledge and exchanging.”
Sharing stories is LeClair’s life. Even during her life in the corporate world, sharing stories was how she approached brand management and marketing.
Now she is able to share stories that are deeply personal and culturally significant.
“I can tell them the history of what the sash colours mean and how it all fits into Canadian history,” she said.
For her next project, LeClair will be illustrating a series of Michif — Métis language — children’s books in partnership with the Manitoba Metis Federation.
Juncture runs at the Cre8ery from Nov. 1 to 12. More information can be found at www.cre8ery.com