The University of Lethbridge has been a catalyst for Piitaayinnimaa (Eagle who Captures) Remko Hess’ (BA '23) growth, encouraging him to challenge and expand his perspectives. Through engaging in critical conversations, he has fearlessly confronted opposing views, seeking unity and understanding. And, in a world filled with colours, brushstrokes, and endless possibilities, Remko soars above and beyond as an artist.

I quickly realized that not everyone will think the same as I do in university. And, that’s okay. I don’t shy away from uncomfortable conversions. Instead, I look for opportunities to engage in critical conversations. As my Kokum said, I’m meant to unite people and make them understand each other. So, I actively listen to and engage with people whom I disagree with.

Meet Piitaayinnimaa (Eagle who Captures) Remko Hess.
Lethbridge, Alberta
Program: Bachelor of Arts | Major: General Major Humanities (Fine Arts, Native American Studies, Philosophy) | Minor: Anthropology

Remko's passion for art transcends boundaries and embraces diverse mediums, refusing to be confined to a single form of expression. His exploration of painting, textiles, drawing, and photography has allowed him to weave a rich tapestry of creativity. However, it is through the lens of photography that his vision truly shines, capturing moments that provoke thought and commentate on the social inequalities and injustices that touch his heart.

While his Indigenous heritage serves as a powerful backdrop to his art, Remko emphasizes that his talent and artistic ability extend beyond his race. However, he acknowledges the deep inspiration he draws from his uncle Dale Auger, a renowned artist in Alberta, and the cultural roots that pulse within him as a Cree individual. The Woodland School painting style, pioneered by the legendary Norval Morrisseau, resonates deeply with Remko, inspiring him to refine his skills and embrace the power of artistic storytelling.

My uncle actually traded paintings with Norval Morrisseau, and so now we have one of his paintings at my house. Imagine, I get to share the same space as this incredible artist’s painting. This is probably one of my biggest inspirations. Morrisseau was self-taught and took his art to great heights. It helps me believe I could be an awesome artist one day as well.

Norval Morrisseau (1931–2007), often referred to as the Mishomis (grandfather) of contemporary Indigenous art in Canada, is renowned for pioneering the Woodland School style. His artistic contributions have left an indelible mark on the art world.

Central to Remko's artwork is the exploration of identity, a theme that emerges from his personal experiences and the diverse paths he has walked. His compassionate nature led him to work in the field of homelessness, where he found enlightenment in caring for vulnerable individuals and raising awareness. Through his art, he gives voice to those who are often silenced, bridging the gap between different groups and fostering understanding, just as his Kokum foretold.

Remko, we commend you for your dedication to creating an inclusive environment where diverse voices can be heard and acknowledged. Your journey as an artist demonstrates the power of art as a vehicle for change. May your art continue to inspire and unite. Congratulations, Remko!

Photos submitted by Remko
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