Mary Ann Penashue

Mary Ann Penashue, named “Emerging Artist of the Year" by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council in 2007, is an Innu artist from Sheshatshiu, a small community in Labrador, located on Canada’s Ungava Peninsula.



Mary Ann’s art has been celebrated for its unique and exciting combination of modern technique and colour to portray traditional Innu cultural images. Her inspiration to capture the “Tshenut” (Elders) in her community began with early paintings of her grandparents, Michel and Mani Pasteen, with whom she was raised. 



Her earliest memories are of being tucked into her bed amongst the spruce boughs in the traditional Innu tent and watching her grandparents drum and dance by the light of the fire.  The ritual she recalls reflects the thanks Innu gave to the Creator for the bounty provided by the land and animals. Mary Ann has been commissioned by several Aboriginal organizations throughout Labrador and Quebec to paint images of Tshenut, and has immortalized the faces of the Elders in approximately 500 pieces.  Her work has been exhibited throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Ontario and she has been show-cased at the Northern Lights Show in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.  



Mary Ann has been painting for twenty years and her goal of communicating her culture and people through her hands and eyes remains unchanged.  A third-year student at the Ottawa School of Art, she is inspired by other artists and is eager to see how her own work will evolve as she continues to reflect and capture on canvas her dreams and those passed to her by her grandparents. Mary Ann is married to Peter Penashue.  Together they have four children and enjoy the time they spend with their grandchildren Kuaukuss (Little Twigs), Penatshuet (Penashue), Miskuss (Little Bear), Starla and Nushkan (Raspberry).