COLIN CORNEAU/ BRANDON SUN
Joseph Sanchez works with Brandon University student Mary McKay during an afternoon of art instruction on Tuesday. Sanchez and fellow artist Alex Janvier helped found the Professional Native Indian Artists, Inc., in the 1970s.
Brandon University students got some face time with two of the artists they’ve learned about in class this week during a student-geared workshop hosted by the Indigenous People’s Centre.
Nearly 20 students gathered at the IPC on Tuesday to paint and draw with Alex Janvier and Joseph Sanchez, two of the founding members of the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., otherwise known as the Indian Group of 7 in the 1970s.
The workshop was also an opportunity that Brianne Cooper, a fifth-year BU fine arts student majoring in drawing, couldn’t pass up.
"It’s pretty cool, you learn about them in class and you never think you’re going to meet them," Cooper said while putting the final touches on a drawing of a blue version of her cat.
"You just learn about these guys who are doing all this stuff, but now they’re in front of you and talking to you so that’s pretty cool."
Since their incorporation in 1974, the Indian Group of 7 has been promoting and serving contemporary aboriginal artists.
Along with promoting Indian art, the remaining members of the group also travel across Canada in hopes of helping youth channel their inner artist.
"They provided me with an ability that I had to share and give back, whatever I know I share with students of any age, I work with really young kids as well," Sanchez said.
"Techniques are things you learn but creativity is something you just gotta feel, gotta let it go and I think that’s what this workshop is about for us."
When he joined the group in the early 70s, Sanchez said he was the youngest member.
"Destiny led me to this beautiful place with great artists and they had great stories, great experiences and the whole goal of the group was to take art back to the people and I’ve carried that torch ever since."
Although Janvier just opened his own gallery about a month ago in Alberta, he wanted to be part of the workshop and said he enjoys working with students.
"They have a certain amount of wisdom but they don’t know how to express it or put it out there."
The workshop also provided a reason for some students to pick up a pencil and draw for the very first time.
"It’s fun, I like it," said Mary McKay, a second-year BU student. "I want to learn how to paint the moon."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 25, 2013