Josée Robertson is a member of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation, whose home is the Mashteuiatsh Innu First Nation reserve in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. Her career choice, after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary art and arts education, as well as a master’s degree in creative expression from the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi (UQAC), was to teach in her community’s high school, where she has been teaching creative visual arts for nearly 20 years. An interdisciplinary artist in her spare time, Josée explores the themes of memory, movement and material culture through photography, installations, painting and numerous other disciplines. For Josée, touching, feeling and experiencing the material she works with are fundamental artistic experiences, and she tries to convey these aspects to her students.
Josée’s enthusiasm for teaching is fuelled by her curiosity and her desire to share her knowledge and skills. She continually strives to make the learning experiences of her students more meaningful for them and for herself. She takes additional art courses to learn about new processes and techniques and acquire new skills that she enjoys sharing with her students.
In order to give her students meaningful learning opportunities that will bring them recognition and renown, Josée organizes collaborative activities in the classroom with artists working in various artistic disciplines. The artworks of Josée’s students have been displayed in various exhibitions held in the community’s museum, in Montreal’s Musée d’Art Contemporain and in Cuba and Chicago. These artist/teacher collaborative projects enable them to discover what they can do and gain self-confidence and provide them with launchpads for future careers.
This Homage to the High Trapper/Kanitau-unahitshesht is an inverted reference to Riopelle’s famous masterpiece L’Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg, the “high trapper” – Kanitau-unahitshesht in the Ilnu language – a nickname coined by André Breton, leader of the Surrealist movement. To create the series of paintings in L’Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg, Riopelle took long walks on Isle-aux-Grues and Ile-aux-Oies and collected various objects and fauna and flora samples. He would then place these objects on wooden boards and stencil them with spray paint. The youth of Mashteuiatsh, in the region of Lac-Saint-Jean, will be called upon to apply a similar process to various objects from their immediate environment found on their Indigenous community’s territory to create their own artworks. They will collect sounds from their space and create compositions using fonofone-image, an innovative digital tool developed by project partner Cosimu to combine music and image.
Realized within the framework of the centenary
The creation of the Foundation was inspired by the dream of Jean Paul Riopelle, who wished to pass on his passion for art, his vision and inspire the next generation of artists to explore, innovate and surpass their creative potential.