Thunder Bay DFC student feels like ‘an artist’ after seeing work in gallery  

Grade 11 student Karlee Meekis has been drawing since she was a kid.

“Because my sister used to always draw people and I wanted to be like that so i started drawing,” Meekis told APTN News.

This is her second year in the art program at Dennis Franklin Cromarty high school.

Art teacher Greg Chomut says the students usually paint self-portraits but this year he challenged them to draw a portrait of a celebrity instead.

“If you look all along here there all different celebrities, we’ve got some contemporary ones like Lady Gaga, we’ve got some easily recognizable guys like Bob Marley and we’ve got Ernest Monias,” said Chomut.

Affectionately known as the King of the North, singer Ernest Monias is a household name in communities like Deer Lake where Meekis is from.

You may have also seen him in memes online.

“I just thought they would think it was funny because of people like, it was a joke on the Internet to us to like Ernest Monias,” said Monias.

But jokes aside, Meekis said drawing Monias was a valuable experience.

“I realized I can draw people because when I do draw in my little sketchbooks I get unmotivated because they don’t look good and I don’t like them but when I drew that big portrait I really liked it,” she said.

“So it made me realize I can be good at drawing people.”

In fact she is so good that it won her an award at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery where a collection of student artwork is on display.

It’s the fourth year the art gallery has hosted a DFC art exhibition.

Chomut said it’s an opportunity for the community to show support.

“What we’re trying to do is just to bring them together to showcase the great things they are doing and encourage more to happen and just let Indigenous people know that they’re welcome and invited in our city, in their city,” he said.

Meekis says she never thought her art would get to hang in a gallery with artists like Norval Morriseau and Christi Belcourt.

“It makes me feel like I am an artist and I can become an artist because ever since I’ve been a child it’s just been my dream to become one,” she said.

Meekis said she hopes to attend the Ontario College of the Arts and Design after high school.


Video Journalist / Thunder Bay

Willow is an Oji-Cree Anishinabe from Sandy Lake First Nation. Her background is in print journalism and she studied multimedia before entering broadcast news . She is passionate about the stories of the Anishinabe in northwestern Ontario, particularly in the remote north.