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Inspiring artist aims to empower First Nations youth
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012 12:13PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 28, 2012 5:43PM MST
A Southern Alberta artist, with roots in the Aboriginal community, has inspired many through his gift.
Since being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Rocky Barstad, has been more determined than ever to use his gift to encourage young people.
While creating in his Two Feathers Gallery in High River, Barstad draws on his native heritage for his inspiration.
Barstad’s current piece is a wax figure which will be turned into a bronze.
The sculpture depicts a young Aboriginal man charging into the future atop his horse. The ride is holding a book representing education and behind the saddle are items representing his proud native heritage.
“Now he's free of all the beliefs that he can't make it and he knows he can,” explains Barstad. “He thinks that's a good example for what education should do for young people.”
Barstad is a multi-faceted artist who works in many mediums. Besides bronze sculptures, he paints, sketches in charcoal and makes replicas of native artifacts.
In years past, Barstad worked hard to balance his time between his art and his concrete business.
Since being diagnosed with Parkinson's, he's concentrating on his art and inspiring young artists, especially those from First Nations. He says, in a way, having to slow down has been a blessing.
Tony Marshall has known Rocky Barstad nearly all his life and considers him an inspiration, both personally and to the community.
“For me, Rocky truly is one of a kind,” says Marshall. “He's honestly High River's native son. He's dedicated his life to the town and native art, First Nations art.”
For Barstad, it's all about taking what life hands you and using it to inspire others.
“So I'm pretty lucky to be able to do exactly what I want to do,” says Barstad. “I'm not gonna let this Parkinson's stop me.”
Barstad is planning to shut down the Two Feathers Gallery but will continue to work on his art.
There's still quite a bit of inventory in the gallery but he's no longer adding to it.
Barstad says the community has been tremendously supportive and a sale last weekend went extremely well.
In 2013, Barstad hopes to focus entirely on his art work and encouraging young people, especially those from First Nations, to pursue their dreams.
For his commitment to First Nations youth, and his inspirational art, Rocky Barstad is this week's Inspiring Albertan.