Open Mind, Open Heart

Pink textile art in Boreal forest

Vincent Design Scholarship / December 23rd, 2021

We’re profiling another Vincent Design Scholarship award-winner who proves that as long as you have a mind open to new possibilities and an open heart, you can continue to learn and grow. At 60, Denise Prefontaine is leaning into a new chapter as a fine arts student. 

As a French-Métis woman who has lived most of her life in Winnipeg, her educational background included environmental and interior design. Yet she said she never saw herself as an artist. However, over time, her creativity emerged in her hobbies, volunteering, and eventually paid employment in the arts and culture community as an arts facilitator. 

A self-taught artist, she’s pursuing formal post-secondary education in order to develop her independent studio practice as a professional artist. She yearns to create artworks for exhibition in galleries, public spaces, parks and other outdoor settings.

Connecting with nature has always been a way to feel at one with spirit, she said, particularly in Canada’s Boreal Shield.

“In my fine arts studies, I’m exploring new ways of combining art, land and spirit… to help us heal, rebalance and renew a loving relationship with land and spirit.”

Rebalancing has been important for her in order to build a life for herself and as a wife and mother. “Most of my life’s biggest challenges came from the stress, insecurity and upheaval of my childhood. I used them to motivate myself to become self-reliant, resourceful and determined to succeed so I could eventually feel safe.”

It’s something she hopes she can help others find, too.

“I plan to work with other artists and organizations in the community to develop arts programming to engage youth and people of all ages in new ways of connecting with nature’s beauty, healing power and wisdom. Art is a great vehicle for self-exploration and creating a positive self-image. It provides a safe outlet for expressing difficult emotions.”

You can follow Denise on her Instagram account and visit her website to learn more about her and her artwork.

Vincent Design, along with Indspire, grants scholarships to Indigenous students pursuing studies in graphic design and related programs. Our goal for the fall 2022 semester is to raise $5,000 by March 1, 2022. Indspire will match donations up to $10,000 in scholarship funds for each academic year. If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, go to