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10 Tuesday August 11 2015 By DALI CARMICHAEL Art lovers of the South Slave gathered in Fort Smith last weekend to kick off the 2015 Summer Splash arts festival with a barbeque servedupwithapresentationbyaspecialguest. The Northern Life Museum and Cultural Centre NLMCC invited an audience to in- dulge in classic grilled fair on Aug. 8 while taking in lessons from Sahtu painter An- toine Mountain. Mountain demonstrated his techniques taking breaks to speak with guests through- out the evening. The museum also opened a new exhibition Circle of Cranes filled with a collection of Mountains work. Mountain said he found art at a young age somethinghedescribedasinevitablehisfamily members were heavily involved in traditional arts throughout his upbringing. We had no such thing as pencil or paper. I started out using charcoal from the fire drawing on blocks of wood. I call that my block period he said with a laugh. In addition to his artwork Mountain has started writing a book about his life. The more he writes - hes at about 400 pages now - the more his research seeps into his visual pieces. One of the focuses of the book Im working on is the differences between life on the land and our experiences at residential schools he said. The imagery that Im doing now has to do with my recollections of life on the land. People can relate to that because theres very little of it now there are very little people with these skills now. The Dene artist takes a utilitarian approach to his art both in his execution and distri- bution. He uses impressionist stylings in his paintings to record the way light bounces off the natural colours of the Sahtu or wherever he happens to be working. Additionally he tries to ensure each of his pieces has a message. His activism through art started when he was a young man. He was selected to at- tend the Grandin College leadership school in Fort Smith as a youth. After high school he trained in radio and communications in Thunder Bay returning to the North to join the Indian Brotherhood and establish radio communications throughout the 70s. What this is all about is trying to create a social consciousness about real life expe- riences of the way people lived at one time he said. As a First Nations artist it isnt pos- sible to do art without having some kind of a statement involved. Mountain also tries to reach out to youth through his paintings and sketches. Whenever I am in the Sahtu Aurora College always makes their campus build- ing available to me and so I do murals with the youth he said. I know there is interest. About 10 years ago in my home community of Fort Good Hope we had a lot of problems with the youth vandalizing buildings. That was their form of trying to get some attention pointing out to the adults that they werent being included in the things that were going on. Since then adults have made a point to volunteer for anything to do with the youth and its starting to show theyre coming back with trophies from basketball volleyball even hand games and drumming. Informing art with academia Over the past decade or so Mountain has not only focused his efforts on improving and learning more about his art he has a long resume of diplomas and degrees including a masters degree in environmental studies from York University and a bachelor of fine arts from the Ontario College of Arts and Design University. This fall he will embark on attaining his PhD in Indigenous studies from Trent University. WhenhesnotbusyeducatinghimselfMoun- tain enjoys sharing his art and experiences throughworkshops.Hehastakenonaposition as a teaching assistant where he said he relied on a traditional medicine wheel to dictate his teaching methods. You are in the middle surrounded by your family. Outside of that is everything else he said. I use this concept when I teach and I get my students to explore themselves and talk about themselves. This boosts their con- fidence and helps them improve. Showcasing arts from the NWT Throughout the week the NLMCC will be offering workshops for youth and adults. Its good that Fort Smith has an event like the Summer Splash Mountain said. Its a sign of a healthy community here and for them to extend an invitation to me to come all the way from Fort Good Hope just for this event its a good thing. The sessions will range in everything from performing arts with Ben Nind Raku pottery withAstridKrusejewellerymakingwithChris deWolf to creative writing with hometown author Richard Van Camp and even creating polymer dolls with Kate Church. As always the museum will host its an- nual farmers market and artists fair on Aug. 15 followed with a wine and cheese party to close the festival on Aug. 16. For a full schedule of events head to the museums website at Sahtu painter Antoine Mountain kicks off Summer Splash in Fort Smith PhotosDaliCarmichael ARTS CULTURE SUMMER SPLASH Artist Antoine Mountain paints among the attendees of Fort Smiths Summer Splashs open barbeque stopping occassionally to chat with onlookers. Ladies attending Astrid Kruses workshop on Raku pottery show off their favourite pieces which will be on display at the Summer Splash Farmers Market on Aug. 15.