Visitors to the Victoria Park Gallery will be able to view an original oil painting by Brent Henry, an Indigenous artist from Southampton, thanks to the generosity of NPX Innovation.
Meagan Fair, an innovation catalyst at NPX, said after the company purchased and hung the painting in its Queen Street office, she began thinking how it was too bad that only a few people would have the experience of seeing the painting. She approached office colleagues Bharath Nangia and Margaret McBeath and the artist, to see if they were of the same mind and when the suggestion was met with support, contacted Victoria Park Gallery to offer use of the painting in the weeks to come. The Gallery was pleased to make space for the important work.
Survivor #1 is an acrylic and oil stick on canvas of “a man performing a grass dance. His long ribbon is a symbol of grass in the spirit world, and the dance is to imitate the grass of the prairies blowing in the wind. This is a residential school survivor still practicing his culture and an example of how his spirit was never broken. No matter how hard the government tried to break our culture or pride, we will never lay down and let it happen,” said Henry.
According to his biography, Brent Henry is originally from Owen Sound and was raised in Southampton by his mother Marian, a native of Newfoundland and his father Rory, from Saugeen First Nation. He has one brother, Brendan.
“I have always enjoyed creating art but started to take it more serious in my teenage years,” said Henry. “After high school I have worked throughout my community while pursuing my love to create. I have always been drawn to art because I enjoy expressing emotions from the world around me. I feel it helps me deal with anxiety and depression because I can organize all of my thoughts onto one surface. Most things influence my art, from film to music, and current events to personal situations. I love expressing myself with paint but I have also used video, photography, and writing.”
“I’ve received a couple awards throughout high school, such as Senior Art Award and Curators Choice Award from Owen Sound Artist Co-op in 2013. Since then I've just been creating for myself, family and friends. I’ve had work displayed at the Southampton Art Gallery during summer of 2020, and I have been featured in the online series “Artists in their Studio” from Rrampt magazine. I had a solo show at the Southampton Art Gallery during July 2021. I have a solo show at the Tom Thompson Art Gallery planned for January 2022.”
Fair hopes local school groups will make the trip to the Gallery in the coming weeks to view the painting and if there is enough interest, Henry may be able to meet students at the Gallery and answer their questions about his work.
“It's (also) a terrific educational piece that the local schools could do some COVID- friendly walking field trips to see it themselves and get inspired and gain a better appreciation for the history of Indigenous people,” said Fair.
Survivor #1 will be on display at Victoria Park Gallery until at least the end of the year. The Gallery is open daily from noon until 4 p.m. and proof of vaccination is required for entry.
Tammy Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent