OMAH Acquires A Unique Portrait Of Rama Artist Paul Shilling

Subject Paul Shilling and artist Amanta Scott in her Toronto studio next to Raven - Impression of Paul Shilling, still a work in progress.

The Orillia Museum of Art & History (OMAH) is pleased to now have a portrait of Paul Shilling in its permanent collection.  The portrait, entitled Raven — Impression of Paul Shilling, was designed and painted by Amanta Scott, who in 2023, had a solo exhibition at the Museum.

Amanta said that she attempted to merge her impressions of the kind, beautiful, sensitive and troubled being that she first met 35 years ago, and whom she has remained friends with. The raven is a being that speaks to both artists, and the figure of the young child appeared in the painting possibly representing one of those lost in the residential schools, an aspect of Paul himself or even his own son, Nimke.

Amanta’s connection to Paul opened her eyes to urgent social issues in Canada. She sought to understand the depth and source of his personal trauma which compelled her to join CASNP, Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with Native Peoples, which ultimately resulted in her becoming a social activist as an artist.

Tanya Cunnington, OMAH’s Arts Programming Coordinator said “it is important to have Raven — Impression of Paul Shilling, a powerful painting, included in our collection.  OMAH developed a relationship with Amanta Scott through her 2023 exhibition Eyeing Medusa and has a continuing relationship with Paul Shilling, both exhibiting him and including his work in our permanent collection.”

Paul is an Indigenous artist and writer currently living and working on the Mnjikaning First Nation in Rama.  His work focuses on identity, self-exploration, finding the inner child and healing.  In Raven — Impression of Paul Shilling, it’s poignant that Amanta chose to paint him alongside a young child.  We believe it to be symbolic of lost childhood innocence-both his and many other children who were forced to attend residential schools.   Perhaps this is Paul as a young child looking up to the man that he is today? This painting can be seen as both heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time.

The portrait is currently on display until September at the Museum.  OMAH is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 4pm.


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