Neechee Studio: A fresh new program of free art workshops for Aboriginal youth led by local emerging and Aboriginal artists (Thunder Bay)


“Introducing Neechee Studio! Through a grant from the RCMP’s Family Violence Initiative Fund, community partners and Aboriginal youth have created Neechee Studio – a fresh new program for Aboriginal youth involving free art workshops led by local emerging and Aboriginal artists. Neechee Studio aims to empower the health and well being of Aboriginal youth (ages 14-30) through artistic expression. The free art workshops are a presentation of Definitely Superior Art Gallery’s Die Active Art Collective, with essential support provided by the RCMP’s FVIF grant. Additional support has also been provided by the Regional Multicultural Youth Council (RMYC), Dennis Franklin Cromarty (DFC) High School, Matawa First Nations and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN).

This exciting youth-driven initiative focuses on artistic expression and learning various art mediums and skills as an empowering and reparative method to address the personal experiences of Aboriginal youth who have been exposed to family, peer and domestic violence. In this way, Neechee Studio will help to address the historical and present challenges associated with family and relationship violence in Aboriginal communities.

Over the course of six months (November 2013 – March 2014), Aboriginal youth will be guided by professional art instructors with the goal of delivering seven varied projects. Each session will address the issues of family violence and healthy relationships with young Aboriginal people in a way that is both restorative and skill building.

The art workshops began on November 27th at Definitely Superior Art Gallery. Youth who live far away or cannot make it to the workshops may also share their art online. Neechee Studio’s workshops will culminate in an online exhibition, a live exhibition and a publication.

As Neechee Studio is a youth-led initiative, young Aboriginal artists such as Lucille Atlookan, will be an integral part of the success of the project, assisting with the formation of the overall project focus, workshop design and outreach in terms of Aboriginal youth involvement.

Why Neechee Studio?
“Because art is a healing tool… When I paint, I paint my emotions and it makes me feel good. I don’t plan when I paint, I just put the paint down and it comes out very dark because I use my art to tell my story. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life, I’ve been through a lot, just like any other aboriginal young woman. I was very shy about showing my work, scared about what people would think, but I just sent my work to Die Active and it was a part of their show.”

The above quote is by Lucille Atlookan, a young Aboriginal artist with leadership skills who helped to form the idea of Neechee Studio. Atlookan is a 24 year old Anishnawbe young artist from Eabametoong First Nation (Fort Hope) currently residing in Thunder Bay. Lucille works predominantly in painting, but includes poetry in some of her art. Lucille has shown her art at Definitely Superior Art Gallery and is a longstanding member of the gallery’s Die Active Art Collective. Lucille is greatly inspired by her late uncle Lorne Shawinimash and Francisco de Goya.

How Can Youth Participate?
Aboriginal youth from all communities (ages 14-30) are welcome to register to participate, all they have do is join Neechee Studio’s Facebook group, or email: and then come to workshops! They all take place 5:30 to 8:30pm at Definitely Superior Art Gallery (located at 250 Park Ave. in Thunder Bay, on the corner of Park Ave. and Court St.). These are drop-in style workshops, and participants may come to as many as they like between now and March 13th. Free food and beverages will also be provided at the workshops. Youth who live far away or cannot make it to the workshops, may share their art by posting on Instagram #neecheestudio, the Neechee Studio Facebook group or by email:

For additional information, please contact:
Lora Northway, Youth/Community Outreach Administrator, Definitely Superior Art Gallery
(807) 344-3814,
Cpl. Marc H. Bohemier, Thunder Bay RCMP Detachment
(807) 623-2791, ext 236,

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE (all workshops start at 5:30)
– Wed. Nov. 27 Street Art! with Boy Roland, Shaun Hedican, and Lora Northway
– Wed. Dec. 18 Found Object Painting with Derek Khani and Drawing with Jordan Meekis
– Wed. Jan. 22 Silk Screen T-shirts with Shaun Hedican and Lucille Atlookan
– Wed. Feb. 19 HipHop/spoken word with Nolan Schmerk
– Wed. Feb. 26 Sculpture! Body Casting with Dayna Slingerland
– Wed. Mar. 13 Mocassin Vamps, phototransfers with Jean Marshall
– Thurs. Mar. 14 Painting and silkscreening Christian Chapman
– Thurs. Mar. 27 Installation of our Exhibit for Urban Infill!
– Fri. Mar. 29 Urban Infill Exhibition opens, featuring Neechee Studio Art Show”

Posted with permission from Lora Northway, Die Active Art Collective/Definitely Superior Art Gallery
Photos courtesy of Jamie Bananish
Read Die Active Art Collective’s profile on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map.




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