Fort McMurray student creates award-winning masterpieces
By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly
Ten-year-old Austan Najmi-Beauchamp is turning heads with his eye-catching talent – on a local and national scale – with his recent artworks on war and racism.
Born and raised in Fort McMurray, the grade 5 student at Ecole St. Paul is an award-winning artist.
Earlier in March, he won first prize in Historica Canada’s ‘How We Remember’ student art and writing competition. The initiative is an annual educational campaign designed to help Canadian youth explore themes of commemoration and remembrance in relations to the First and Second World Wars. The competition had over 950 submissions from students across Canada.
A few weeks later on March 21, Najmi-Beauchamp picked up another first prize win at home for his painting submission titled “Our Roots Cut Off” in the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo’s 2016 Tackle RACISM Inter School Competition.
The annual event is a collaborated effort by the Multicultural Association and the local Catholic and Public school districts to help youth in the community build a conscious attitude toward dealing with racism and hate.
Najmi-Beauchamp shared his inspiration comes from being surrounded by a family full of artists. He also enjoys reading books on soldiers and great battles. As he finds creativity within himself, he shared people need to show their talent and creativity to the world.
“Everyone has to participate in art as it is: a hobby, a form of self-expression, and it shows your feelings and thoughts to other,” he said. “I believe we all have a story to share with others about our contribution to society.”
In regards to his Historica Canada submission, Najmi-Beauchamp explained how it was inspired by his Great Uncle who fought in the WWII as a frontline soldier in Italy.
“I wanted to honour his sacrifice and his contribution to Canada and its freedom,” he shared. “This painting was made as he wrote letters home to his family.”
Najmi-Beauchamp’s mother Naghma explained their relatives come together every five years for a reunion and they take time to honour the victories of their ancestors who immigrated to Canada.
“We also celebrate Remembrance Day in honour of the soldiers, and call the extended family members to talk about his sacrifice, as very few details were ever mentioned by him because of the sorrow and loss that went with it,” she said.
The young artist has already secured local gallery exhibitions and will be showcased in the River Station Arts in the near future, as well as the Wood Buffalo Regional Library during Aboriginal Treaty Days on June 21. His exhibition will showcase a number of pieces to highlight the annual festival.