Lafferty turns lens on Metis culture with first photography exhibit

Submitted photo. Photographer Richard “Louis” Lafferty focuses his lens out in the field. Lafferty’s first photography exhibit runs at the Grace Campbell Gallery until Oct. 31.

Louis Lafferty focused his lens on local connections with his inaugural photography exhibit, but he had a helping hand doing it.

Lafferty, a Metis photographer born in Yellowknife, officially opened his new exhibit at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library’s Grace Campbell Gallery on Sept. 29. The exhibit is called ‘Rediscovering the Beauty of Kistahpinahik’, and focuses on Metis culture and land use around the North Saskatchewan River.

“This is my first art show for my photography, and I am thankful for the public library giving me the opportunity to showcase this collection of photography from this region,” Lafferty wrote in an email to the Daily Herald. “I was eager to get it installed and hear the community feedback, which so far has been positive.”

Lafferty is a self-taught photographer who just started working in the medium. For advice, he turned to local Metis artist Leah Dorion and Elder Curtis Breeden, who helped him create a photography exhibition focusing on Metis culture.

The exhibit includes 26 images, three of which involve collaborations with Dorion, who painted Metis symbols and artwork onto his photographs.

Lafferty thanked Leah Dorion for encouraging him to pursue photography. He also thanked Roberta (Bobbie) Dorion for helping with the installation.

“This collection represents about two years of land based photography and cultural land use topics,” Lafferty wrote. “I hope viewers of the show enjoy my perspective of the small animals, birds, and nature in our area.”

Leah Dorion is a well-known artist in the Prince Albert area. She’s taken part in many collaborations in the past, but said this was the first time she’s been asked to paint images on a photograph. She thought it was an interesting idea, and happily agreed.

“That is the coolest thing,” she said.

“The photos were printed all on canvas, so I got to do something I’d never done. I’ve never painted on a photograph before,” she added with a chuckle.

Dorion said Lafferty brings an interesting and important perspective to the arts world. She’s hopeful local arts supporters will make the trip to the library to see his show.

“I just see some value in what he’s doing as a young person telling his own story in his own unique way, “she said. “He’s so young and able. He didn’t have the biggest lenses, but he got so close to some of the animals. I would never be able to have the ability to get that close. I’m too loud.

“With the limitations he had with his equipment, just getting used to it and not having super telephoto lenses, he was really able to connect with a lot of the animals in his subject area and get some pretty neat shots. It was nice for him to highlight some of those scenes (and) those abilities, (and) for him to feature some of the little creatures in our region that often get overlooked. Culturally, for us, some of those small creatures are very important in the Metis worldview.”

‘Rediscovering the Beauty of Kistahpinahik’ is on display at the Grace Campbell Gallery until Oct. 31. The gallery is open during regular library hours.

@kerr_jas •