WIIKWEMKOONG – Pahquis Trudeau may be 11 years old, but the young Anishinaabe student overflows with a creative spirit. He may be more familiar to Expositor readers from his appearances at the Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival— where he founded a drum contest—than with a brush in his hand, but he loves to create art. When his Grade 6 teacher at Pontiac School Sharon Lavallee gathered a number of students with a mind to create a large mural, Pahquis was all in. Then came COVID-19 and the sudden end of the school year months early.
“I was pretty disappointed,” he admitted.
Undaunted, the young artist set out to create a large mural on the side of his family’s garage. But since this was largely new territory for the budding painter, he sought out some expert advice—Wiikwemkoong artist Art Jacko, who started out his own art career with Pahquis’ uncle Ken Trudeau.
“He gave Pahquis a lot of good advice,” said Pahquis’ mother, Alanna Trudeau. “He was pretty impressed and told us what kind of wood to put up to paint on.”
Aside from advice, the entire project was all Pahquis all the time—a little over a month and one week in fact.
“I wasn’t working on it all the time,” admitted Pahquis. Sometimes the bugs and the rain drove him indoors.
Self-taught, Pahquis has developed his own unique style. “I got my inspiration from the cartoons like Spongebob Squarepants,” he said. “It just grew in my mind.”
From paper sketch, to painting a white background on the wall, to sketching out the design, to filling it in, the work just kept going. The result is a large black and white mural that is pretty amazing for an 11-year-old’s first attempt.
Pahquis said he has no intention of colourizing the monochrome mural; in fact, like many artists before him, he plans to paint over this first effort and replace it with a colour mural.
“I have learned a lot,” he said of the undertaking. “I haven’t decided exactly what I am going to do yet, I am still thinking about it.”
As for the school mural, “I guess we will do it next year,” suggested Pahquis. “Maybe the new Grade 7s and 8s, maybe the new Grade 6s. I guess we will find out next year.”