Fort William artist Christian Chapman, left, helps Fort William youth Beau Boucher-McLaren to silkscreen print his maple bush design onto a t-shirt during the Feb. 24 Neechee Studio workshop at Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay.

By Rick Garrick

THUNDER BAY—Fort William artist Christian Chapman shared his silkscreen printing techniques with youth during a Feb. 24 Neechee Studio workshop at Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay.

“It’s going pretty good — everyone seems to be having fun and everyone is creating something,” Chapman says. “So I think it is a huge success. Everyone is doing their own thing.”

Chapman began silkscreen printing about 10 years ago after some friends introduced him to the art form. He estimates that he has done about 5,000 silkscreen prints since then. He was recognized for his artwork last October when he was presented with the Emerging Artist of the Year award by Premier Kathleen Wynne and Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, at the 10th Annual Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.

“The cool thing is that anyone can do it,” Chapman says about silkscreen printing. “And it’s the kind of thing that everybody sort of wears already — screen-printed images. [This workshop] gives the people who are doing it a little bit of a background on how it is done.”

Fort William’s Marnie Greenwald says the workshop was “awesome.” She silkscreen printed two images of her loon design onto a t-shirt during the workshop.

“I’m a loon clan,” Greenwald says. “And two is my favourite number.”

Greenwald enjoys the atmosphere at Neechee Studio and hopes more Neechee Studio workshops are available in the future.

“I come here all the time,” Greenwald says. “It’s always nice people and it’s way better to get crafty. I love art. This is my second year.”

Lucille Atlookan, lead youth outreach for Neechee Studio, says Neechee Studio’s schedule of workshops will be extended from April to July at a location in Fort William First Nation.

“It’s something new that we are doing,” Atlookan says. “Neechee Studio gives us that space to express ourselves without being told what to do or what to say. As youth, we need that. We need to tell our own stories and at Neechee Studio, we promote that.”

Fort William’s Beau Boucher-McLaren enjoys the atmosphere at Neechee Studio, noting that it is “a lot of fun.”

“There’s a lot of interactions with new people and everybody is always happy,” Boucher-McLaren says. “It just a good time in here generally — it’s always good vibes, good atmosphere.”

Boucher-McLaren says the silkscreen printing workshop gave him a chance to put some of his artwork onto some clothing.

“It kind of matches my beadwork,” Boucher-McLaren says. “But the lightning was a little too intricate, so I did it on the outside instead. It’s a different design this time.”

Boucher-McLaren used multiple colours to create his silkscreen print.

“The light side was a little bit light — I could have put it in the middle and the dark on the outside and it would have probably looked a little bit better, but overall I like my results,” Boucher-McLaren says. “It’s not quite done yet; I still have to do another print over it, so the finished product will be good. It represents our maple bush up on the mountain. I can’t wait to wear it up there.”

Boucher-McLaren usually helps out with the maple syrup harvest on Mt. McKay.