Crystal Lennie

Beaufort Delta
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Artist Story

I mostly paint with acrylic on canvas. I would describe myself as a landscape artist. My art represents the beauty of the Arctic. It represents home to me: the beauty of home!

When I was younger, my mom worked for the Great Northern Art Festival. I would hang out with her and various artists at the festival. Some of my favourite memories are watching these talented people paint. It peaked my curiosity.  The very first painting that I made was of an inuksuk, when I was 11 years old.

When I think of art, I think of something a Gwichʼin Elder told me. She said that here in the Arctic we get to see masterpieces every day. Each beautiful scenery can be seen as a painting: wide open spaces and big skies, new colours and landscapes. Every day when I look at what is around me, I think to myself: “Oh that’s a beautiful painting, let me see if I can recreate it”.

I always take great inspiration in what I see when I am out in nature. I go out on the land with my parents often, they take me to the most amazing places on earth! I also get to see a lot of the northern landscapes from a bird’s eye view when I travel for work, like the pingos near Tuktoyaktuk. I often drive down the highway, taking pictures along the way. I love to go ice fishing in the springtime, or berry picking with my friends. I especially love looking at the night skies, the northern lights being some of my most favourite scenes to paint.

I like to travel whenever I can. I have been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery of London, the Vatican City and the Met in New York City. I feel fortunate that I get to appreciate all this beautiful artwork. While traveling in Australia, I participated in a paint night and I decided to take it up as a hobby after that.

In 2011, I took part in a leadership program at the Banff Centre. I spend a lot of time focused on academic work in my everyday life, and I was encouraged to balance it out by working on my creative side. During that program, I started to doodle a lot. Since then, every time I read articles, I make it a point to paint afterward. I take it more seriously now.

When I paint I feel happy and calm.  My art also connects me to my culture because of the connection to the land. The connection to land is the connection to culture. We have such beautiful landscapes here in the North and I often think that if people would have the opportunity to see how amazing it is to be driving in a boat down the West Channel towards Barge Lake, it would be such a gift! Having the ability to capture that through painting is something that is very special to me.

Artist Bio: 

Crystal Lennie is an Inuvialuit and Gwichʼin artist who lives in Inuvik. She has done a mural for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, but mostly paints for friends and family, with the hopes of selling her work one day through markets and other community events.  Crystal is excited to continue developing her own unique painting style, while exploring new mediums like metal and wood printing, as she continues to evolve as an artist. 

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

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