Unearthed Treasures


Métis artist brings her unique talents to the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum

Candace Lipischak’s works of art will be on display at the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum from April 2 to May 31, 2020. This comes after her artwork was recently featured at the Commité Culturel Franco-Manitobain’s Art Gallery in Winnipeg. Two thirds of her works on display are new creations.

The artist explains that it is not always easy to discuss the Métis cause, but art is a good way to approach it. One of her works, entitled “Outside Promises”, is a coin on which Candace Lipischak represented Treaty number 1. Depicted are a settler and an Aboriginal person shaking hands. However, where the hands meet, there is a hole. In this way, the artist represents the breach of promises. To emphasize the offensive side, the contours of the coin are jagged. The allusion is clear: it is incisive, it hurts. In her art, Candace Lipischak questions the outside world. “The Métis way of life is closer to nature”. A closeness that she wants to talk about so she uses objects found in nature such as antlers of animals and plants.

The 40-something artist says that she has been drawing since she was a little girl and that she has always had an attraction to manual work, thanks to her father Larry Lipischak. However, she hadn’t made it her job until five years ago. “In the end, it was a combination of circumstances that revived my creativity.” She explained those circumstances began when the price of cable increased and she decided to discontinue her subscription. She went out more and discovered her “treasures” as she calls them; treasures hidden in nature that appealed to her and aroused her curiosity. She had “flashes” of the creations she could create from them.

Lipischak confides that it is also the difficult events that helped hatched her talent. Twenty years ago, she witnessed an armed attack that left her with post-traumatic stress disorder. Two to three years later, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The question was really “how to learn to live differently with a disease that will not leave you”. Art helped her get out of this “fog”. She was tired of having to consider her recovery from a single medical perspective. Creating allowed her to take charge and express herself without really talking about illness.

Where she worked before, Lipischak felt that she was not using her full potential. She had “work stability but not internal stability”. She knew deep down that something had to change. “It was very scary, it was not easy to decide to change everything; it was not planned.” However, what are interpreted as signs in her culture, have supported her in her decisions. She says that while working on one of her pieces, a golden eagle flew over her three times. “Among the Métis, if an animal presents itself to you several times, or if it presents its four sides to you, it means that it trusts you, that it guides you”. That day, the emerging artist understood that she was going in the right direction.

Today, Lipischak runs her own business. She notes that “it is a lot of work, but that despite everything it is easy, because it is a passion that gives a certain freedom.” She says you shouldn’t doubt yourself and quotes her mother: “Only you can decide your future. The rest will follow.” Besides coming from nature, Candace Lipischak specifies that the materials she uses have lived experience. The medium of the work is as important to her as the creation itself. During her five years of creation, she felt an evolution of her art. She always went through an experimental phase before creating, in order to understand how painting reacts to the various materials she uses. Over the years, she has further diluted the paint in her works so that the support shines through. This can be seen in her work exhibited at the WRHM that represents Manitoba. She has assembled lids from rusty steel barrels she discovered around the province. Over these, she painted almost transparent birch trees to embellish the material without hiding it. You can see the rust go through the paint.

Candace has embarked on many different adventures. She is delighted to be able to meet many people and encourage the little ones. She has even given workshops at the Museum for Human Rights. “It was fun to mix law and art.” The artist is also bursting with ideas for her next works.
She plans to build a large mosaic made up of small broken pieces of antlers from different animals. Each piece will have its own provenance, texture and color. This new project is also an opportunity for the artist to create with her father again. Another of her future projects involves a beehive that was given to her. She doesn’t yet know exactly what she’s going to do with it, but she’s imagining, “Maybe cut the hive in half to present the interior, or leave it whole and paint it.

She also talks about creating a bison bust with “curly dock” plant that she finds in the ditches near her home. This plant makes her think of the animal, because it is “very solid, very resilient, just like the bison which almost disappeared, but survived”. For the lashes of the wild beast, she will choose the digitalis plant with a very thin tip.

Lipischak insists on expressing her gratitude. “I find myself in a dynamic that is snowballing. Good things line up. I am on a great journey”. Before she woke up sick, anxiety woke her up. Today she is happy to say that she has overcome this period of her life.

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