BOW VALLEY – Dreams have shaped the man, and the artist, Roland Rollinmud.
It was in a dream that the renowned Indigenous artist and Elder saw his latest piece, which is now crafted into a newly published picture book titled My Life’s Work – 2018, showcasing some of his greatest artwork over an illustrious four-decade long career.
“The book just naturally happened,” Rollinmud said, as a smile sprouts across his face under a signature black brimmed hat. “Today with that book, I can’t believe I’m holding, is a part of what I was planning for my future and is now a reality – it’s amazing.”
Dreams, and dreaming, have always been integral to sparking Rollinmud’s creativity.
It was 50 years ago when Rollinmud first dreamt about becoming an artist.
From the Stoney Nakoda reserve, where he attended residential school in Morley, Rollinmud used art and doodling as an outlet.
“We could only go home two days a month (from residential school) and in that time I didn’t have nothing else to occupy myself,” Rollinmud said. “That’s why I discovered art. Art was a part of the school.”
He would bring home doodles and scribbles, but left the art alone once with family. His brother and sister – artistic in their own right – encouraged Rollinmud to continue with his art at home, as well.
“I was inspired by that,” he said.
Once a little older, Rollinmud first worked as an artist for the Stoney Nakoda Cultural Education Program in 1971.
He then studied art at Calgary’s Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and graduated from Banff School of Fine Arts in 1985.
His dreams to become an artist became actions he took into his own hands.
“As time goes, whatever I think of comes to reality,” he said. “I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be the best in Canada, and whatever you want to do in life it’s up to do you do it.”
Now one more prophesied dream has come to fruition through hard work and determination in My Life’s Work – 2018, Rollinmud’s book debut of original artwork in pen and ink, and oil on canvas in a 24-page hard cover that’s been in the works for a few years.
Its coloured pages are filled with striking wildlife art such as bison, wolves, and eagles, and Indigenous peoples and cultural practices.
“I want to give motivation to anybody on how beautiful Mother Nature is,” Rollinmud said. “Art is something that you have to pause to create and some take longer, and some are done quickly.”
In My Life’s Work – 2018, Rollinmud is also pictured working alongside youth at Morley Community School, creating a colourful mural for the institute.
“Life is so hard on the reserve for the young generation, it’s a stand still,” Rollinmud said. “My goal is to inspire the youth that yes, you can be anything you put your mind into and develop from you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, the elders have all the questions…part of education you have to have is the elders there to include the school, and teach the students to be proud of who they are and represent it.
“Here I am as an artist, not realizing what I have accomplished as I go; I’m proud.”
Rollinmud added that his book of artwork is for everybody to enjoy.
“The book itself, I like to share what I have accomplished to anybody,” he said. “The book was a dream that was a part of me when I started to become an artist.”
Rollinmud’s My Life’s Work -2018 is $64 (hard copy), and is exclusively at Canmore’s Lifeways art gallery, which is dedicated to giving Stoney Nakoda artists a greater platform to display artwork.
This fall, Rollinmud is planning an art show at Lifeways in conjunction with his book release.
For more information, visit the Facebook page Lifeways Canmore.