Artist hopes work inspires students

Article from The clipper

By Arlene Davidson

An indigenous artist with ties to Manigotagan and Bissett hopes her work in painting a wolf sculpture at the Frontier School Division offices in Winnipeg inspires young artists the way she was inspired as a student.

Shawna Grapentine is a Cree-Ojibway artist who was born in Winnipeg and raised in Man igotagan. She is a member of the Hollow Water First Nation and a graduate of the Wanipigow School.

Known for using silhouettes of nature and vibrant colours in her custom paintings, Grap entine paints her images on a variety of unique items including animal skulls and antlers, saw blades, tile and appliances.

She was recently commissioned to put her personal touch on a wolf sculpture purchased by the Frontier School Division.


Wolf statue before and after


"The sculpture was purchased from the artist in Thompson," explained Grapentine. "The board members loved it and thought it would be a beautiful to add to the landscape."

"I am very honoured to have been a part of this art project. Frontier has played a huge role. in my success as an artist."

During her childhood in Manigotagan. Grapentine's father cut pulp and worked at the Bissett Gold Mine. Her mother was a stay at home mom who joined the Frontier School. Board of Trustees.

The family enjoyed spending time outdoors and in the country. Although they were not wealthy, she said her creative parents filled holidays and gatherings with music, fun and laughter. This rich childhood was a source of artistic inspiration to Grapentine.

"My parents are both artistically talented. My father could draw, carve and create just about anything he put his mind to and my mother loved folk art and crafts," she said, noting every Halloween her mother would sew and create costumes from scratch for each of her seven


She said she was about 13 years old when she discovered her passion for art.

Shawna painting the wolf statue

"I always enjoyed arts and craft sessions at school or in the community, but it wasn't until I reached junior high that I discovered I was pretty good at it," said Grapentine. "I grew up watching my oldest brother draw and doodle in his spare time. I was intrigued and inspired by his great talent. My goal was to be an amazing artist just like him.

The Frontier School Division provided Grapentine with a strong foundation for the arts. where she was supported and inspired through many of the school's programs.

Today, Grapentine inspires students through art programs in schools and is interested in educating young students about the value of art. She has travelled to many remote communities in Canada to mentor students, and enjoys seeing the creative potential they illustrate in their creations.

Grapentine's vision is to create one-of-a-kind pieces bringing loved memories to life inspired by her culture, values and passion for art.

"To do art and be creative is great, but to teach and inspire others is a blessing," she said.

Grapentine also captures portraits and depictions of historically significant events in pencil sketches. Some of her commissions include a mural for the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Centre in Winnipeg, signage and paintings for Bissett Forestry and the Manitoba Association of Native FireFighters.

She established Moon and Back Custom Arts in 2010, and has produced an increasing number of custom art pieces each year, gaining recognition across Canada and the U.S.

Grapentine's husband is from Bissett, where the couple resided for 15 years. They currently live in Rainy River, Ont. with their 10-year-old son.