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The Walleye
Creative Chapman
Christian Chapman is a Thunder Bay artist who has recently completed
a commissioned portrait of Elijah Harper, participated in a Banff Centre
residency program, and is also starting to dabble in film, working on a
piece about an obscure Aboriginal artist living in the 60s.
It's a great afternoon for a drive out towards Chippewa to
Birch Point Road, home and studio of local artist, Christian
Chapman. A long time resident of Fort William First Nation,
Chapman has been making significant waves locally and na-
tionally with his unique visionary pieces.
Chapman is a `local boy', born and bred in Thunder Bay.
Raised on Fort William First Nation, Chapman attended
Lakehead University Fine Arts program before finishing
his education at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design
"Ever since I can remember, I've
been creative," Christian tells me
in his home next door to his stu-
dio. A beautiful lakeshore loca-
tion is also home to many memo-
ries. The studio where Christian
works is actually the home in
which he was raised. With the
lake in the background, Christian
talks about the things that com-
pel him to stay in Thunder Bay.
"I enjoyed living on the East Coast while I attended
NSCAD. But while there, I realized I really loved Thunder
Bay. Much of my inspiration comes from living in this beauti-
ful place. I also draw on tales I have heard growing up, from
my parents and siblings. As they talk, an image comes into
my mind that forms the basis of the piece." His style has re-
cently begun to include elements that echo patterns and styles
of Aboriginal fine crafts. "I've been influenced by my girl-
friend, Jean Marshall, who currently has pieces showing at the
Thunder Bay Art Gallery. I love the use of colour and pattern
in her beadwork and fine craftwork, and it has made its way
into my work as well."
In January 2010, Chapman was selected as one of ten artists
invited to attend a residency at the Banff Centre as part of an
intensive experience meant to explore Aboriginal language. Led
by photographer Greg Staats, Chapman met many other con-
temporary Aboriginal artists including Alex Janvier and Robert
Some of Chapman's most recent works include a portrait
series of Aboriginal artists such as Benjamin CheeChoo, Jane
Ash Poitras, Norval Morriseau and others. Funded through
the Ontario Arts Council, each piece in the collection captures
the featured artist's essence. Chapman has also completed a
commissioned portrait of Elijah Harper through the Chiefs of
Recently Chapman has started to expand his creative en-
deavours to include filmmaking. In his studio, he points out
the set he created for this new project. "I took a introductory
film course while at NSCAD, and I guess I got bit by the film
bug then," he explains. "The film I am making is influenced
by the geography of Thunder Bay and is a timepiece about an
Aboriginal artist living in obscurity in the late 60s. The idea
began for the film was born as I worked on the artist series and
had the opportunity to meet many of them."
Chapman is currently creating 25 new pieces for an upcom-
ing show at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery in November 2010.
The series will explore "Don't" messages that tell people what
not to do. He also has some pieces showing at the Definitely
Superior Art Gallery Members Show from July 16 to August
. To learn more about Christian Chapman, and his work,