Four MCHS Indigenous artists are taking part in ACACA art show. 

Above from left: MCHS artists Dathon Potts, McKenzie Nolin, Danica Elliot and art teacher Tara Riccioppo (holding art by Romeo Anthony Courteoreille-Morin). – Stephen Dafoe Photo


by Stephen Dafoe

Masks by MCHS artist Dathon Potts. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

This Mother’s Day weekend will see artists from all over displaying their art at Pembina Place in Redwater. The annual Northern Zone Arts Show is run by the Alberta Community Arts Club Association (ACACA) and hosted by the Redwater Art Society. 

Four artists showcasing their art from May 12 to 14 are Dathon Potts, McKenzie Nolin, Danica Elliot, and Romeo Anthony Courteoreille-Morin, four Indigenous students attending Morinville Community High School (MCHS) selected for sponsorship in the upcoming show. 

“A friend of mine asked if we’d be interested in sending some student art to the Redwater Art Show,” said MCHS art teacher Tara Riccioppo, noting that the art will travel to other shows after the upcoming event. “The Redwater Art Society offered to sponsor [students] that had Indigenous backgrounds. There are seven students showing, and four have Indigenous roots. 

Four Artists – Four Styles

Artist Romeo Anthony Courteoreille-Morin’s interest in art began at an early age. “I can remember I started out with crayons and stuff like that, and I started to venture more with the medium as I aged,” Courteoreille-Morin said, noting that oil paints are the preferred style these days. “My main style is graphite on paper or oil on canvas. I like to go for more of a blotchy look. I feel it adds more personality to the characters I paint. I like artists like Van Gogh.”

Beyond that, the artist takes inspiration from the people and places Courteoreille-Morin encounters. 

For 15-year-old Danica Elliot, COVID boredom prompted her to pick up the art supplies. “I was bored out of my mind, and I just started doodling on paper,” she said. “I got my first sketchbook and started moving on in art. I got really interested in realism and animals.”

Elliot said adding shade and being able to change the shape of an animal through the use of shading is what attracts her to the style. “

Sixteen-year-old McKenzie Nolin said art began in childhood. “I drew a lot when I was a little kid,” Nolin said. “I practised every day for hours on end, and I just saw a lot of passion in it.”

Nolin’s art aims for realism; the artist works in various mediums. 

While the other artists present their creations mainly in two dimensions, Dathon Potts’ work is in three through masks.

Potts said his start in art happened when he had a couple of ideas. “I looked at folklore for a bit, and I decided to get some ideas off of it,” Potts said, adding his creations started on paper in one of the sketchbooks he got for his birthday. “Then I just got thinking, ‘I can make masks.’ I could try my best.”

That trying produced results. First, a mask of a deer, and secondly, a gas mask, then an executioner—each focusing on the fearful.

“It’s kind of like the Wendigo—the deer, the one that hunts down people and eats them,” Potts said. “I got the idea that this is something scary. I can make it.”

Indigenous Influences

For the four artists, Indigenous culture plays varying roles in their art.

Courteoreille-Morin said none of the pieces created to date had been influenced by indigenous culture, but that may soon change. “I have ideas in my sketchbook that I haven’t actively painted yet.”

Danica Elliott said being Métis has had a bit of an effect on her work. “Growing up Métis, I’ve always been taught to care for the Earth and care for the animals,” the artist said. “I like animals, so I just continue to draw animals. I think my culture has influenced that. 

McKenzie Nolin said being Indigenous does not influence her art but that she’d love to express her culture in her art. “

Dathan Potts Wendigo mask is an example of an Indigenous influence in his work. “It’s supposed to scare people. You’re not supposed to talk about him,” Potts said of the Indigenous folklore. “

First Show For Artists

Three prominent ACCA-selected artists will jury the show, with selected works going to a province-wide show later this year.

The upcoming ACACA show is Courteoreille-Morin’s first. “I’m excited, definitely. A little nervous, too,” the artist said. “I’m hoping to get some good critiques. I’m hoping to be able to further improve my technique.”

Similarly, the Mother’s Day weekend event is a first showing for Danica Elliott. “I think it’s shocking because when I made these pieces, I was just doing it for myself,” she said. “It’s crazy to think that people from around Alberta and around the communities will see my art.” 

McKenzie Nolin is excited to take part in her first art show. “I’m excited but also nervous,” Nolin said. “Being my first art show, I don’t really know how it’s going to go. I’m sure it’ll be fun.”

For Potts, though looking forward to the show, there is some reluctance that his creations may be gone after the art show and sale. “I also have hope that they will do good,” Potts said. 

Teacher Tara Riccioppo sees the upcoming show as a good experience for the student artists. “Their lives are changing so much, and there are not a lot of opportunities for this experience,” she said, noting that many student artists only display their art online on galleries like DeviantArt. “It’s great, but there is something about actually seeing an art show in person.”

Riccioppo said she is planning a field trip on the first day of the event so students can experience the setup and display of an art show and network with other artists. 

“We would be a part of seeing all of the works,” Riccioppo said. “They wouldn’t just be handling their work but all of the works that are coming in for the exhibits and sculptures. It is a good experience to see how you view artwork.”

Redwater Art Society has planned a weekend with music, vendors, wine, and a silent auction. The art show takes place the same weekend as the Town’s Community Wide Garage Sale, allowing garage sale shoppers to see art in one trip to Redwater.

More information on the event can be found at

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