A Winnipeg artist is exploring her Chilean roots in her art - and she's finding some connections to Canadian Aboriginal expression. Chilean-born Wanda Luna is opening a show at Neechi Commons called Woman of the Earth - Indigenous Women of the Americas.

Her exhibit of ink work on paper features images of women and of stories she remembers from her childhood.  

"I identify myself as an Indigenous Chilean artist and the issues of Indigenous studies and women are incredibly important to me and close to my heart," she said. "So this was a way to explore those issues. In my culture, the women are the spiritual leaders."

Now Luna wants to share her vibrant Chilean culture with others. "When people think of Chile, or South America, they think of wine, copper and empanadas. Those are really important, but it also has a really strong historical Indigenous history and I think it ties very nicely with the current movement here in Canada with, as an example, Idle No More."

Read about Wanda Luna's Dream Room Project

Luna was interested to find that many people, when they see her art, remark on the similarities to Canadian Aboriginal art. As well, she has observed parallels between Aboriginal mythology and storytelling from both South America and Canada and she wants to explore those links.

"One of the biggest Indigenous groups in Chile is the Mapuche people, Mapuche meaning 'people of the earth.' So they have a strong belief that they're here to protect Mother Earth and that's very similar to what the Indigenous people in Canada believe," she said.

Based on her research she believes that Indigenous peoples of the Americas share strong historical roots. "We've always believed in South America that we've always been one with the North Americans. I think we have a lot to share, I think we have a lot in common. We all lobby for the same ideals."

Luna now feels she is definitely influenced by Canadian Aboriginal styles. "It flows into your own artwork," she said. "You're influenced by your environment when you're an artist."

Luna is also a teacher and enjoys being able to pass stories and traditions on to young people. "Art lets me do that," she said. "I get to share something that's close to me."

Wanda Luna's show Woman of the Earth - Indigenous Women of the Americas opens at Neechi Commons Oct. 24 beginning with a talk at 7 pm.