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Local aboriginal artist having first public exhibit

Ronnie Rowsell has came out from underground and spiritually, through his artwork, he is continuing to rise.

Ronnie Rowsell is about to open his first public exhibit where he will display 52 pieces of his collection at the Arts and Culture Centre in Corner Brook for the month of February.

Geraldine Brophu photo

After a career as an underground miner, the Pasadena man has rededicated his ambition. Not only is the burden of health and safety gone, but he has found a new take on life.

"I am not working underground anymore, and that is important to my family," Rowsell said. "I have to put as much energy into this now that I put into the mining industry for 26 years."

The western Newfoundland man has worked underground throughout Canada, but as far away as Africa and Central America. In those countries, he said he was drawn to unique cultural and artistic works.

After more than a quarter century of risking his life to mine the underworld, he felt he was overdue to retire, and Rowsell found his next calling. Always interested in art, and with roots deep in the Mi'kmaq nation, it only made sense to him to combine the two.

He has been active with his art work for about 11 years, he estimates, with the past three dedicated full time. He does not limit his aboriginal work to his Mi'kmaq heritage. In fact, due to a fascination with the Beothuk culture, he said the majority of his work deals with that particular ancestry. He also dabbles in modern art.

Rowsell's work includes paintings, sculptures, burnings, and various unique treasures found in nature - such as a meteor fragment found in the Bay of Islands and various whale bones.

He said the aboriginal culture in Newfoundland is strong, and growing. He has received much support from the community, especially an aboriginal following. He said art is an important part of his people's culture and heritage, and he also finds peace and tranquility through his work.

"I have never been so blessed in my life, doing something so positive and so good," he said. "It is good for the community, for myself and my inner spirit. I am really drawn to it and I feed from it. It's good energy for me."

The Corner Brook native has two studios - one on West Street in Corner Brook and another in Massey Drive. He has 20 pieces displayed at Madison's Restaurant.

He is about to open his first public exhibit. He will display 52 pieces of his varied collection at the Arts and Culture Centre in Corner Brook for the entire month of February.

"I am excited," he said. "It's all new to me. It's a different world."

Rowsell is not resting on his successes. He and his wife Sherry are planning an international in exchange in Chiang-Mai, Thailand. He is aiming to get a studio there and establish himself within the vast international culture of that area. Twitter: WS_CoryHurley


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