London art mentorship program connects youth with Indigenous roots
Youth learn all about screen printing and business entrepreneurship
It was through the art of screen printing that Robin Henry was able to embark on a healing journey that would eventually reconnect the London artist with their Indigenous roots.
The 30-year-old is now enabling others to do the same through a unique mentorship program that not only teaches Indigenous youth about screen printing and business entrepreneurship, but also helps them connect with their culture and heritage.
Rezonance is a three to four month-long program that operates out of an arts incubator in the Old East Village with the help from two screen printing companies and several other mentors alongside Henry. It's also known as the Out of Sound Rezonance Program.
"Print making and Indigenous culture are entwined. We use our art and our print making to connect with our culture and to heal whatever we have in us that needs healing," said Henry, who's also the owner and founder of the Antler River Press.
"We teach youth how to screen print and teach them how to run a small business. We are also oriented around economic sovereignty. A big part of what we can to do is create income, create jobs in our community and in order to create jobs, we need skills," added Henry.
'Connect with culture'
They were taught how to design their own stencils and use a screen printing press. Henry said the art reflects stories about both the struggles and accomplishments of Indigenous people.
"Times are hard but we're also thriving as people," Henry said.
Henry said the art itself doesn't necessarily have to feature Indigenous symbolism but the fact that it's made by an Indigenous artist makes it Indigenous art.
"You Indigenize it by being an Indigenous person telling that story," Henry said.
"The hopes of the program is that they leave with not only the ability to screen print but like a new way to connect with culture, a new outlet for healing, for growth, for self-expression."
Henry did not learn much about their identity growing up, they said, which contributed to some challenges later in life.
"Making art was the way I healed," said Henry.
Henry hopes the program, which is partially funded by the Ontario Arts Council, will return for another session in the winter.