“My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” Louis Riel
I am a Métis artist and presently working on a series of 22 mixed media acrylic paintings each 36”x40” in size. This series is highly textured and designed with my animal motifs and Métis beadwork art. I am painting a series with the intentions of showing them in future exhibitions. One of the aspects of my art is to symbolize the connections that the Métis people have with animals, plants and nature. The traditional knowledge and uses of plants and animals is slowly being revived and continues to sustain many Métis and Indigenous people to this day.
The names & descriptions symbolizing each piece of art brings about personal emotional reactions. When viewing my art individuals may feel some connections as they reflect on their personal characteristics and qualities within themselves and their circles. This creates a second layer of meaning, for example they may have an emotional reaction to the art that reminds them of the strength of a loved one, the wisdom of a community leader or the lightheartedness of a colleague. Balancing physical, emotional, mental and spiritual growth throughout our lifetimes is essential and symbolized in my artwork. We all have similar beliefs of what it is to be a good human. Coming together and recognizing our connections will get us out of our bubbles and learn to live in harmony on Mother Earth.
Each animal will be embellished with a unique Métis beadwork art design representing the environment the animal lives in and in some cases what that specific animal eats. This contributes to a third layer of meaning and the importance to keeping the environment clean for the healthy survival of all living things. This is how I honour the vibrant floral beadwork techniques and designs of Métis women, men and LGBTQ. The Métis people have been known as the "Flower Beadwork People” throughout colonial history. Flower beadwork continues to be crafted on clothing, pouches, covers and jewelry. Our ancestors gorgeous symmetrical designs are still present today. Métis floral beadwork adorance is our way of giving thanks to the plant world that continues to provide us with an abundance of food, medicine and joy.
Presently the following Spirit Animals will be included in my series, a moose, deer, bear, beaver, bush rabbit, ducks, partridges, squirrel, goose, gopher, wolf, turtle, fish, fox, porcupine, skunk, owl, horse, dragonfly, frog, hummingbird and eagle. These are all local prairie animals. Sales of my prints help me to continue painting and sharing our beautiful culture. I hope to inspire future generations of Métis artists.
Being a self taught artist in the digital era is beneficial and numerous online tutorials provided me with a wealth of knowledge. I have made it a point to self teach myself in several different mediums. Presently my focus is mixed media acrylic paintings with animal motifs and textured Métis beadwork. This series of paintings has several layers and steps creating depth and captivating interest. It highlights the colorful beauty and symmetry of Métis beadwork.
My Kokum's creativity and determination inspired my art. She lived in a two room house on Jackrabbit Road on the road allowance in Lebret, Saskatchewan. There she brought up 11 children with her husband Gregoire Poitras. During the winter months she lived with us, as her home lacked amenities. Lovingly we would string beads for her gorgeous necklaces. For our efforts she gave us a nickel per string, which would go full circle in an evening game of rummy. The sales of necklaces provided her with extra income for living expenses. The elders in my youth were positive role models and always encouraged my creative nature.
I have always celebrated life through art and in the past years I have created several backdrops for school musicals and community events. I was proud to donate art for silent auctions, one for the Early Learning Centre of a turtle. During my career I helped organize and co-presented several workshops to integrate children's Indigenous stories with art. I was fortunate and thankful to have the Saskatchewan Arts Board award me with the Indigenous art grant in 2018 to create a 108”x48” triptych with mixed media techniques and my floral artwork. And at present a 2019-2020 Arts Board grant to continue my love of art and painting. With the present Spirit Animal Series of paintings. I also recently produced a 5 minute video with the support of the Canadian Arts Council. This was my first experience with animation. I have a whole new appreciation for animators and it's fair to say I am not one. I have designed art for the Regina Downtown Business District on several traffic boxes and door art. One of a turtle that represents Turtle Island, it’s embellished with Métis beadwork, you can view it in front of the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina. It feels fantastic to Indigenize local areas with art that represents the beauty of Metis culture.
My most recent back alley artwork is directly behind the Copper Kettle business. This is wrapped with a digital image of three of my Métis Spirit Animals. As well, it was exhilarating to create a project for Sask. Cultural Days 2019 and Articulate Ink. I carved a 2’x4’ buffalo running through the valley for their steamroller printing event, titled, “Where the Buffalo Roamed”. Further being included in the Art Now exhibition with the support of Sakewewak First Nations Artists' Collective was an important stepping stone.
I will be highlighting the Michif word for each animal in the descriptions of my art. My hope is that both Metis and other cultural backgrounds will learn some of our language. As you know many Indigenous people including myself lost their languages over the years due to forced assimilation.
In addition to being an artist and designer I graduated from the Saskatchewan Native Teaching Program ( Suntep) and I am now a retired teacher of 28 years. I have endless ideas and plans to continue my growth and drive to create art throughout my life and to represent the beauty of the Métis beadwork through art. This new phase of my life gives me the opportunity to focus on my love of sharing my Métis inspired art. I eventually plan on producing a children's book with the inclusion of our Michif language. Michif is slowly making a resurgence and I myself aspire to learn Michif. Many of our traditional teachings were not passed down for fear of retribution. However the resiliency of the Métis people is inspiring and we are slowly reclaiming the lost parts of our culture.
I’ve been a busy bee during this pandemic (Literally I just started in January 2020 with this series) and I’m also creating an artist gift product line that will represent the “Flower Beadwork People''. Métis inspired gifts are few in our gift shops across the Nation and I would like to help improve that situation through my artwork and creativity. It is important that our vibrant culture is represented in a positive light. It is a wonderful feeling when an Métis person acquires an art product to proudly enjoy it in their homes. My 83 year old mom had tears in her eyes when I gave her a gift that represented her culture. My art and design reflects our Métis identity and helps preserve it for future generations. Artwork will always bring people together to celebrate our unique cultures and create a better understanding of the past and present realities.
I sign my art P. Poitras-Jarrett honouring both my Métis mother and my Scottish-English father. I will always promote pride and positivity through art in the community and in Indigenous people.
Sending love and hope to the world during this pandemic,
Some interesting facts about my family history:
CV Below the Art ...
CV Phyllis Jarrett-Poitras - Indigenous Contemporary Artist
My contemporary art is influenced by my rich Metis culture of both present and past. Metis people are known as the “Flower Beadwork People” and I depict our traditional floral designs, culture, stories and dance within my art. I consider myself an experienced artist, yet continuing to emerge and learn. I am a registered member of the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan.
November 2020 - I was grateful to be awarded the Indigenous Art grant from SASKARTS to complete my Metis Spirit Animal Series that are each 36"x40" in size. Further to help people gain a better understanding of the Flower Beadwork People's amazing floral designs and their connection to all living things on Mother Earth.
November 2020 - I was very grateful to be featured on the U of Regina Arts holiday greeting card for 2020. Metis Spirit Rabbit Holiday Greeting Card
November 2020 - Featured in Dan Levy's (amazing human being and star on Schitts Creek TV series) holiday favourites list. He made a point to educate himself about Indigenous history to present after taking a UofA course online during the pandemic a must watch. Indigenous Modules on You Tube
November 2020 - I completed a short video animation for the Canadian Arts Council. It is 5 mins in length and includes my Spirit Animals as characters. The concept idea is how the pandemic affected the animals, people and environment both positive and negative. It's fair to say that I have a whole new appreciation for animators. This experience led me to believe I need more practice and time to learn in this area. Thank you CAC for giving me this opportunity.
November 2020 - My Metis Spirit Beaver was highlighted in a Scottish conservation calendar to save and bring back beavers to their natural habitat located in Scotland.
Alley Door Art 2020 - My "Metis Spirit Animal art was chosen to be installed for the Alley Art project to promote positive cultural relations. You can find my Spirit, Moose, Buffalo and Deer in the alley directly behind the Copper Kettle in the alley. I love this idea!
August 2020 Canadian Hello Magazine August special edition.
August 2020 My "Metis Spirit Animal" designed products are being sold at With These Hands here in Regina.
May 2020 I am honoured to have my art hanging at the Native Women's Association of Canada Resiliency Lodge in Quebec.
Dec. 2020 - Sask. Arts Board Grant 2020 to create six 36"x40" mixed paintings for a series of 20 plus "Metis Spirit Animals" I am presently working on. These are being created and painted during the pandemic of 2020 --- to who knows.
Projects/Grant Awards - Sept. 2019 - Sâkêwêwak Artists’ Collective Gallery -Chose four of my 30”x 48” mixed paintings to display at the 2019 Art Now Saskatchewan Fine Art Fair.
August 2019 - Sask. Cultural Days Event/Art Submission/Articulate Ink. My art was chosen by Articulate Ink for a Sask. Culture Event depicts a buffalo running across the Saskatchewan plains near the Qu'appelle Valley. I carved Metis floral beadwork sprouting up from the ground. It was carved onto a 2’x4’ woodblock. I helped ink the woodblock and it was rolled over with a steamroller on Scarth St. in Regina during Cultural Days to create a paper print. The steamroller printing event was organized by Articulate Ink. Loved It!
Dec. 2018 - Sask. Arts Board Grant 2018 to create a 108”x 48” mixed media canvas collage Painting (Triptych) Titled “Valley Tranquility”A representation of Qu'appelle Valley And it’s three lakes with vertical lines representing the sky, water, sun and earth. As well Metis flower beadwork canvas cutouts across the scene.
City of Regina Downtown - March 2019 - Traffic Box Art 2018 I created beadwork graphics and a Turtle to adorn this box located in front of Regina Central Library and Dunlop Art Gallery. Titled “ Turtle Islands Water”, to bring awareness to clean water across Turtle Island (North America) and to promote positive cultural and community relations and prevent graffiti in Regina, Sk. downtown area. I participated in a first time art walk in our city's back alley ways to discuss my art along with several other artists. Alley Door Art 2018 - A second location for “The Circle of Rejuvenation” installed for the Alley Art project to promote positive cultural relations. May 2016 Traffic Box Art installation, The title is “The Circle of Rejuvenation” It’s located in front of the Saskatchewan Mental Health building and brings joy and peace to the space. It’s adorned with bright yellow floral beadwork and buffaloes with the sun shining down. To promote positive cultural and community relations and prevent graffiti in Regina, Sk. downtown area.
1990-2018 Regina Public School Board, Regina, Sk.28 YEARS — Elementary Teacher Retired - Throughout my career I had opportunities to coordinate Indigenous focused events and positive cultural awareness such as inviting Indigenous expert presenters and inviting Elder’s visits for the children. (Bannock, Storytellers, a Tipis raising and crafts) Integrating art within the children’s learning was of great importance to develop creative young adults throughout my career. My creative gifts gave me many opportunities to help prepare backdrops and art for special events throughout the year. Ensuring that the children always took part.
Committees/Workshops - RPSTA 2000 Conference Sask. Teacher’s Yearly Convention to help organize the Indigenous component - communications committee, Integrating Indigenous Literature and Art Workshops 1997-1999 for AWASIS, RPSB Convention and Sask. Reading Council with my co-presenter Christina Johns Other Experience - Métis Spirit Art & Design is my personal artist website influenced by my rich Metis culture to display and sell my art, decor and fashion designs. The art and graphics on my website are designed by me. Most importantly in addition to being an ecommerce/artist website I created it to promote positive relations between our communities and promote our rich culture.
Skills - Several years of self taught (Online) Art, photoshop, photography tutorials. As well as studying informational books on techniques and style, Photography knowledge & use of a full frame Sony A7III, Web Designer and Manager of a home-based business, Knowledge and confident use of Photoshop 2019 and Lightroom 2019, Designing graphics using an Intuos Graphic tablet and photoshop, Creating small video presentations
Website Designing & Social Media - sole designer of Metis Spirit Art & Design shopify, Metis Spirit Art & Design Facebook,Metis Spirit Art & Design Instagram with a Social Media Course by (Blue Moose Media)
EDUCATION - University of Regina, S.U.N.T.EP, Regina, Sk.- Bachelors Of Education
Graduated 1990. SUNTEP is a fully accredited Bachelor of Education Program with a cross-cultural focus in Metis History and Culture. I majored in cross-cultural studies. I was a teacher for 28 years and enjoyed teaching students about the Metis culture and history.
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Métis Spirit Art and Design