Portia (Po) Chapman is a Canadian artist reclaiming her Indigenous heritage. She describes her artistic pursuits as an act of fanciful dreaming. She has never stopped pursuing her dream of becoming a Canadian listed professional artist and Visual Art educator.
Being a part of the Queen’s community has played a significant role in Po’s career. She completed the Concurrent Education program (Artist in Community Education) at the Faculty of Education, acquiring her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in 2019 and her Bachelor of Education in 2020. Her teachable subjects are Visual Art and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Studies. Portia continues to be invited back to Queen’s to showcase her colourful artwork. Her creative, head-turning graphics of literal and interpretive imagery not only inspires reflection, they also purport the joyous nature of creation that encourages viewers to smile. Portia thrives in a world freely expressing a hopefulness that sings songs of togetherness and a bright future and is inspired by nature and beautiful things.
In pursuing her dreams, she showcases joyful artworks that embody her stories and love for nature, leaving the viewer open to interpreting her artwork in ways that align with where they are in life. Her inspirations include the heartbeat of nature, wildlife, the elements, family, community, Indigenous stories, and the hopeful spirit of creation. Creation is one of the greatest aspects that inspire her art. The creation element is within every piece: smiles, laughter, the sparkle of life, joy. She follows Indigenous customs from stories, the materials she uses, and the processes, which is reflected in the flow of her work. This interconnectedness is shown through the flow of one image into the next.
Portia is a multidisciplinary artist and many of her works have been featured at Queen’s. In 2019, she was commissioned to create a collection of inclusive illustrations for the Queen’s University Indigenous Initiatives website. Supported by Indigenous women who guided, encouraged, and comforted her during the process, Po says, “as a new emerging artist, I learned to listen, quiet my mind, and allow my heart to sing”. This collection was later illustrated in the university’s revised Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Implementation Report. One of these images, “Truth”, was particularly popular, featuring a Clan Mother telling a story to young people circling a campfire. It was featured on the Queen’s landing page for the week of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This collection features sacred animals, trees, ceremonies, and stories of Canada’s First Peoples from coast to coast.
A more recent work, a graphic image, entitled “My Creation”, adorned the inaugural edition of the Queen’s University ASUS, Journal of Indigenous Studies. Portia was commissioned to paint a 48” by 48” version of “My Creation” for Kingston Hall’s Reflection Room. ASUS will be hosting an unveiling event and celebration once the piece has been mounted above the fireplace. This commission was deeply spiritual. Po’s continued relationship with Queen’s continues through current and future works. Expected upcoming work is anticipated this spring (2022). She has been commissioned by the Queen’s Faculty of Education to create a new series of circular images celebrating their Indigenous initiatives. Additionally, she will be creating a collection of painted and natural hand drums made from elk rawhide and white cedar. These meticulously created pieces can be drummed as well as adorn art collections. Portia also offers reflective, community workshops on visual storytelling using her artwork as prompts. Queen’s University is very grateful for Po’s art creations featured at the university and is looking forward to these new works.
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Claire Scruby is a student in the Queen's University Concurrent Education Program, now in her final year of study. She has completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree with a Major in Global Development at Queen's University. Claire is currently in the Indigenous Teacher Education Program, focusing on the teachables of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Studies, as well as French as a Second Language. Through her paternal grandmother, Claire has ancestral roots with the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation.