My family and I have made Grand Forks our home several years ago after living in Winnipeg for a short time. I was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Reservation located in the Rolette County. I had moved to Grand Forks in 1999 to study business and art at the University of North Dakota; which is where I had met my husband. I chose to study both business and art as they are a very dominant part of my upbringing. However, art is where my passion exists. I had upheld several part time jobs and volunteer work; and realized it was the time to pursue that passion.
Creativity is my outlet for self-expression; I’ve always been taught to be careful with my words, for words are very powerful. I have been brought up in the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota surrounded by so many interesting stories from our Elders in the community as well as many talented artists. The stories have the power to influence greatness, but can also have adverse results.
Storytelling is extremely important amongst our people; it is there to teach us lessons in life. Some of these stories may be exaggerated, stories may be complete fiction, and many stories are flat out truth. It is up to the listener to grasp the point of what the storyteller is trying to portray. The stories that we are told are purposeful, they teach us our histories, how to heal, how to live, and how to laugh.
My song, my story is told through paintbrushes, charcoals, pastels and many other mediums. As a Native person, the creative process is a way of life and a part of who we are. My art is an opportunity to reflect, to teach, to experiment, and to continuously discover new paths. With the short time here on Earth, it is amazing all that I have been able to experience and I want to share that with others. I want my spirit and the spirit of my elders to live on, and I will keep that alive in what I create. Through my work I hope to help change any negative beliefs held against our people, our culture, our tradition and also to strengthen the positive. Through my work I also hope to help teach the audience of our histories and also about the evolution of our people.
My work is not only made up of my own personal stories; they are the stories of my elders. The elders have handed so much on to us, and it is our duty to hold on to the stories to pass on to the world. These stories can break down barriers and uphold bonds. There is a lesson that we can all take from each and any experience we come across. As we walk through this journey of life, there are so many stories that we can share. These stories may not always make us happy or laugh – that is not what makes a story good. Minwaajimo is when we’ve taken the time to not only hear, but to listen to what is being said and take that with us in our hearts.
With this, I welcome you to my show, “Minwaajimo- Telling a Good Story” presented by the Blue Door Gallery in downtown Grand Forks. The show opens Thursday April 18th, with an Opening Reception on the 18th- 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm; the show ends May 11. This show is my official debut into the Grand Forks art community. I have been very fortunate to have found a supportive community to pursue my creative outlet.
Several artists and my own work will also be part of the GGFYP’s 8th Annual ArtSee, Friday April 26th. After attending a YP ArtSee event, I decided I wanted to become a member of the GGFYP. I hope to see all of the GGFYP Community at ArtSee and please bring friends and family also!
Chi Miigwech! Thank you very much!
- Hillary Kempenich