COVID-19: Facemasks and physical distancing are mandatory at all campus locations. Students, please monitor email and Moodle for program updates. Enhanced Measures
Artist in Residence

The Artist in Residence program provides the opportunity for a local artist to develop artistic works and engage community members in dialogue, workshops, events and activities throughout the residency term.

Joseph Sánchez, Artist in Residence 2018 to present

Portage College has had the honour of hosting Joseph Sánchez as Artist in Residence since the 2018/19 academic year. He has also accepted the part-time position of Museum Curator of the Portage College Museum of Aboriginal Peoples’ Art and Artifacts (MOAPAA) to continue to raise awareness of the impact Indigenous art has on the world, especially the People of this region.

Sánchez is one of the two last remaining artists of the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (PNIAI), also known as the Indian Group of Seven. He has been to the college before when he and the other surviving member of PNIAI, artist, Alex Janvier, attended MOAPAA’s 40th anniversary. Janvier and Sánchez were honoured, along with the other five artists, posthumously, with a permanent exhibit of their works. Currently this is the only permanent exhibit of the Group in North America.

Sánchez continues to elevate the next generation of artists through the Artist in Residency program. This program brings an artist to Portage College for a three month span to provide mentorship to students of the Native Arts and Culture program. The residency also provides the opportunity for the visiting artist to develop artistic works and engage community members in dialogue, workshops, events and activities throughout their term.

Read Joseph's full bio here:

On Joseph's first month here, we sat down to discuss the artist in residency program so far.

How is your Artist in Residence position going so far?

Residency is going good. It's an opportunity to work in this space, the studio is nice. I'm actually getting to work in the classroom with students so they can watch me paint while they're doing their own class. I can weigh in when the instructor asks me to, which is an unusual kind of concept. It gives them direct contact while the process is happening and I think that's a special thing that's happening here. They not only get a direct view, because I'm doing it right here on the wall, but they get to hear it from my voice.

Have you ever done this type of program before?

I've done lots of work with lots of students of all age groups from literally babies to adults. So I'm very much into sharing whatever I know because it's what the Group thought of years ago. We wanted to share our artwork with our own people. [The Group] shared theirs with me because I was just a beginning artist in those days. I was young and thought I was already well accomplished but when you get with people that are really accomplished it kind of ups your game. Forces you to think about what you're doing and I think that being in the residence also allows me to share with the students, the idea of being just creative in a different sense than what's academia.

Since I'm not an academic, I reach deeper into my own personal systems. I have done a lot of self-study that I'm able to share with them because there's a lot of questions about appropriation and cultural information. These are things that are constantly challenged for young artists with an Indigenous background.

Can you speak about being an Indigenous artist?

Basically, the current structure of all artwork is based on European ideals and then it came through the contemporary America with the abstract expressionists, pop art, and those kinds of things. That's really influenced what people think of what art is. And that certainly didn't include native work by native people. Although the artists themselves borrowed heavily from them. I always talk about the ability to talk to animals and these kinds of things that were part of our culture. These are the things that were reflected in the artwork but were only considered culture and could not be considered as fine art.

Tell me about how your experience has been so far with the students?

I like the way that they are comfortable enough to come up and talk with me while I'm working, ask me different parts of the work or techniques, colours or paints I'm using. A very comfortable setting, the students are very engaged and very interested. I'm very comfortable here, it's like being home. The other part is that I get to be with the community. It allows me to literally perform and be able to walk around and talk to a wide variety of people. Share with them the ideas I created from 50 years of being an artist. And that's tied in with 35 of them where I was involved with the museum business as well. My own artwork wasn't a big seller. I've always been on the edge, so it's supplemented by being a museum person. It also gave me the platform to speak about those issues that have suppressed native art whether it's in the United States or here. Canada is way ahead of the United States in terms of recognizing native art as being part of the cultural landscape of the country.

How is this experience different from other experiences with beginning artists?

I think it's because the college is teaching from an Indigenous perspective. You're learning art, the skills that really help you understand where this all started. You may evolve into a painter on canvas or a video artists or whatever you evolve into, you'll have that background in relationship to your own culture and how it evolved.

What's your feeling on coming to Lac La Biche, Alberta?

It's an opportunity to work up here and do paintings that are influenced by the region. I haven't had a lot of time to stay and do work where I get the feeling of being out in the boreal forest or knowing about it. Also being so close to Alex [Janvier] as well, and that I'm able to think about this place that so inspired his work. Now I look up and just walk outside and the idea of this forest and this special place and that it's a canopy. It's a forest with a canopy and all this life on the ground. Seeing something like this, where the wood buffalo are from. It's inspiring to me. So it's nice to be here.

This piece I'm doing called The Spirits of the Boreal Forest, it allows me to channel my thoughts on what it feels like to be here. The spiritual. Also when I come here I get to do sweats with Alex in the sweat lodge. That really ties me to the land. I'm hoping I can really do more about that and this is the opportunity to do that. I actually get to be in the place and feel that energy and with the students the energy of this place is carried with them and that's kind of rubbing off on me. That's an added benefit. 

Can you talk about what you've been working on recently?

I don't come from a land where there's water at all. To see huge lakes that are 20 miles long. Or like Cold Lake, so deep. It's amazing to me. I think this place has inspired me about painting. I've been painting about water for the last decade that I've been coming up here. And water as women as a nurturing element of the Earth. That comes directly from here. The idea of water and water as woman, the power of women, the nurturing element of the earth. This has created works that are my scrolls which are 11 inches by 60 feet and as much as 90 feet long. It's about the energy of water. Water, when it's running free, creates free electrons and literally energy within its swirls. The water that we drink is now dead water because it's missing that. It's no longer running. It comes from damns and damning of rivers, creating these stationary ponds of water and they've lost the swirls and the energy. That's inspired me to do all these paintings and using the idea of women as well, cause I've been painting women for so long, almost my entire career has been about women. It started with woman as object.  

I've always had this soap box: Men's time is over. It's time for us to recognize the nurturing power of women if we're going to save this planet. This whole idea of war and warriors. Now the women are the warriors for the sake of being the saviors of the planet. They can nurture and they can also give birth. Men can't do that, we don't have a clue. All they want is power. So the Metis movement and all that is coming around. I think that's important. We're still really abusing woman all across the world. If my work can bring a little of that forward. A separate title to part of this work on water is also called Sacred Fire and it's more focused on the woman as this sacred fire that embodies water. So it's literally fire around water. They have this strength of fire but the nurturing power of water. 

The Artist in Residence Program


  • To provide space for emerging artists to nurture and develop their art
  • Support a collegial environment and new artistic talent
  • To provide instruction and mentorship to Portage College NAC students
  • To provide Portage College students with the opportunity to see the development of artistic vision and process through the body of work produced by the artist
  • To provide supplementary and adjunct perspective to both process and content in art media for NAC staff & students
  • To provide Portage College NAC students with the opportunity to attend workshops/lectures/demonstrations by the artist, to draw inspiration from the artist and to develop an understanding of work ethic and time management in the production of artwork
  • To promote Portage College NAC programs provincially, nationally and internationally through the display of artist's work and the promotion of the unique Aboriginal art programming and activities associated with both the residency and the programs


  • 16 weeks
  • Fall term (September to December) or Winter term (January to April)

Portage College will provide:

  • Dedicated space within the Portage College Lac La Biche campus to work including an easel, table & chairs
  • Access to studios
  • Access to library & internet privileges
  • Exhibition opportunity at the conclusion of the residency
  • Public lecture/presentation opportunity
  • Facilitate presentations or workshops at settlements, reserves and schools
  • Letter of support to pursue individual funding
  • Accommodations for one person plus a weekday meal card
  • A stipend which the artist is expected to use for weekend meals, art supplies, personal expenses and travel

Artist will:

  • Provide 3 workshops/lectures/demonstrations with NAC students; predetermined by NAC Coordinator, Dean , staff and the artist
  • Provide access for students & staff to view artist's work on a weekly basis and speak to the artist
  • Provide access to all work for use in promotion of Portage College programs including website promotion and display
  • Be focused and self-directed
  • Provide artwork, for public display within the Lac La Biche campus, on an ongoing basis during the residency
  • Create a body of work for an exhibition that will take place at the completion of the residency
  • Maintain regular studio hours comparable to Portage College NAC student timetables (hours)
  • Provide all supplies and materials for their artwork
  • Provide travel expenses to and from Portage College Lac La Biche campus
  • Provide, with facilitation through the NAC coordinator, a minimum of 3 workshops or presentations in area settlements and reserves
  • Provide, with facilitation through the NAC coordinator, a minimum of 2 presentations or workshops in local area schools
  • Donate one piece of art to funding sponsor (if applicable)
  • Sign a contract with Portage College which defines requirements and expectations

Who is Eligible?
Artists meeting all of the following criteria may apply:

  • Must be an emerging artist from any discipline (preference will be given to visual artists)
  • Must be a current practicing artist
  • Must have completed basic art training
  • Must be able to work in a self-directed and focused manner
  • Must have basic computer skills and knowledge

How to Apply?
Applications must be sent by email and include all of the following:

  • 10 images of work and an image list (images must be readable on a PC and in a suitable format (1024 x768) - doc, jpg or pdf
  • A letter of interest indicating artistic focus including artistic history.
  • A detailed plan of proposed focus and scope of work.
  • A current resume (3 pages max.)
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Two letters of reference

Email to: Donna Feledichuk

Past Artists in Residence


Amy Malbeuf:

The Native Arts & Culture department at Portage College is pleased to announce the appointment of Amy Malbeuf as Artist in Residence for the 2017/18 academic year. Malbeuf is an award-winning Métis visual artist from Rich Lake, Alberta and will be sharing her knowledge, skills and experience with our own art students as well as local communities.

  This is not the first residency Malbeuf has participated in. She has been chosen for many international artist residencies including at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia; The Banff Centre; and The Labrador Research Institute. In 2015, she was one of two Canada Council for the Arts fellows at the Santa Fe Art Institute, New Mexico.  

Malbeuf is an accomplished and highly sought-out artist. Her art has been exhibited nationally and internationally at such venues as Art Mûr, Montréal; MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina; Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton; and Pataka Art + Museum, Porirua, New Zealand. She is profiled in the most recent edition of Canadian Art magazine and will also be featured in an upcoming TV series Skindigenous airing on APTN in January, demonstrating traditional tattoo methods.  

Currently Malbeuf is working alongside Portage College instructor Ruby Sweetman to create works of art for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. This Commemorative Art Project tied into the College's Museum of Aboriginal Art and Artifacts is titled 'Hide Tanning: Tradition Inspiring the Present and Future'.  

Malbeuf holds a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan and is a past graduate of the Native Arts and Culture program at Portage College. In 2016 Malbeuf received a Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award and a William and Meredith Saunderson Prize for Emerging Artists in Canada from the Hnatyshyn Foundation.  

Portage College is proud to have such a distinguished alumnus back home, sharing her exceptional artwork and knowledge with our students.

My artwork investigates the interaction of the basic elements of art, in particular, color and shape. I take my inspiration from the world around me and I am drawn to the simplicity of shapes like circles and rectangles. Everywhere we look there is an abundance of gadgets and products that are formed from simple shapes - circular objects like clocks and berries. How do these shapes affect us emotionally? How do they affect our artwork? In my artwork, I try to experiment with the idea of simple shapes and colors and how they are the foundation of our artwork.

These simple shapes have a strong presence in my artwork although I also incorporate many recycled materials such as boxes, plastic lenses, used fabric material, and embroidery hoops. I enjoy the challenge for taking something old and disposable and turning it into artwork. I find it rewarding taking these materials and giving life back to them in an artistic way. I am constantly growing and experimenting as an artist and feel there is freedom in my expression of art using these discarded and disposable materials.

ArtOcean Coral by Meghan


Blue Boxes










Organic Babies




Organic Growth


Footprint Impression

Art  Art

Wax Tree 1                              Wax Tree 2




Green Snake and Pupil



Green Boxes


Fish Scale


Mixed up

Art    Art

Triangle Animal 1                              Triangle Animal 2


Mountain Side







October 3 - Pakan School (Whitefish/Goodfish)
October 12 - Kikino Métis  Settlement School
Meghan delivering workshop Meghan delivering workshop

October 19 - Elizabeth Métis Settlement School
October 20 - Legoff School
November 17-19 - IMPRESSIONS Art Show, St. Paul & District Arts Foundation
November 19 - The Home Schooler Children's Mask Workshop, St. Paul & District Arts Foundation
November 19 - Paper Folding Christmas Card Workshop, St. Paul & District Arts Foundation
December 1-2 - IMPRESSIONS Art Show, Portage College, Lac La Biche Campus


December 1 - Heart Lake Kohls School, Tour of IMPRESSIONS Art Show & Workshop
December 1 - Amisk Community School, Tour of IMPRESSIONS Art Show & Workshop
December 1 - Light of Christ Catholic School, Tour of IMPRESSIONS Art Show & Workshop
December 1 - Paper Folding Christmas Cards for Adults, Portage College, Lac La Biche Campus
December 2 - Ecole Plamondon School, Tour of IMPRESSIONS Art Show & Workshop
December 2 - Aurora Middle School, Tour of IMPRESSIONS Art Show & Workshop
December 3 - Mask Making for Children, Portage College, Lac La Biche Campus
December 16 - Paper Folding Christmas Cards for Native Arts & Culture students

PhotoAmber Weasel Head was our first "artist in residence" at Portage College. 

She is an alumni of the College and graciously agreed to return to work with students. Amber delivered workshops with Beaver Lake School and Goodfish School as well as working on projects along with Portage College students. 

Amber is an indigenous artist of Blackfoot and Bitterroot Salish and is originally from southern Alberta but has resided in Lac La Biche for several years. Art has become a way of healing for Amber, she has learned to express difficult emotions as well as overcome challenging situations through her artwork. 

She truly believes that "you can make art out of anything" and it has become such an important aspect in her life. Amber would like to pursue a career as an art therapist so she may help others heal and be able to fully express themselves in a constructive and healthy way just like she does.

We are located on the traditional lands of First Nation Peoples, the owners of Treaties 6 and 8, which are also homelands to Métis people.
Facebook Instagram Linkedin RSS Twitter YouTube