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by Aloma Jardine
athan Cann has had a crayon, pencil, paintbrush,
or pen in his hand for just about as long as he can
"I've been drawing since I was a kid," says the Saint John native.
"My parents were pretty supportive, so any program I wanted to
be in, they let me."
They were equally supportive when Cann decided to pursue a
Fine Arts degree at Mount Allison. For Cann, Fine Arts was not
his first choice, it was his only choice.
"I don't know how to do anything else other than paint or draw,"
he says.
That passion for art has already paid off handsomely.
Cann was the New Brunswick regional winner of the BMO 1st!
Art Invitational Student Art Competition, a prize that netted
him $5,000, national recognition, and the chance to have his
prize-winning piece,
Fallen Soldiers, exhibited at the Museum of
Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) in Toronto during the
month of October.
"It is a pretty substantial award," he says. "The financial benefit
for emerging artists is beyond anything you expected, but it also
opens a whole world of possibilities."
Fallen Soldiers is a series of 12 oil-based mono-prints. Cann took
high-resolution photographs of soldiers in an online video game
at the moment of death, then painted the images on Plexiglas and
made prints of them.
"I started off playing video games and ignoring my homework and
then I thought, `Maybe this should be my homework,'" he says.
"I didn't want to make soldiers so they had a political message, it
was, `This is what death looks like,' that was it. I didn't want it to
have a motive."
Cann says most of his artwork revolves around painting in some
way, but says there is no one medium he uses consistently. One
of the things he appreciates about the Mount Allison Fine Arts
program is that students are encouraged to try everything. If there
is one common denominator it is that he likes to focus on daily
"I never go into something with a finished ideal. I don't know
what I'm doing until I play it through," he says.
That is also something he learned at Mount Allison.
"One of my professors said, `If you are baking when you are mak-
ing art, you are making something with an end product in mind.
If you are cooking, you are throwing stuff at stuff and it could be
terrible or it could be really good,'" he says. "I'm cooking. I'm not a
baker. Baking is like craft, you have a purpose in mind. In cooking
you are trying to find a purpose."
Cann's long-term plan includes completing a Master's in Fine
Arts so he can teach.
"I really respect the professors, what they do and the dedication
they put into giving us a better education and I would like to carry
that on," he says."
Nathan Cann's award-winning mono-prints, Fallen Soldiers