Paul works on a wax model of Nicholas Black Elk for a bronze sculpture entitled, 'Black Elk's Peak' in 2016.
Paul Rasporich was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on January 12th, 1965. From 1982-1986, he attended the Alberta College of Art, where he earned a diploma in Visual Communications. He also met his wife, author Lee Kvern in his second year of Art College. Upon graduation, Paul and his wife Lee opened a design and illustration business called Firstglance Design. It was during this time that Paul started to develop his painting skills, and he became a professional artist shortly thereafter, exhibiting at Master's Gallery in Calgary, Alberta.
As Paul's work was primarily figurative, and grounded in realism, there was a demand for his painting portraits of families and business leaders, which he did full-time from 1994-2000. During this period, his family had grown to two sons. He did not feel the portrait commissions were fulfilling him as an artist, and not providing an income that he felt was fair to his family, so he went back to school to earn his teaching degree.
While teaching full time from 2002-2016, Paul continued to develop his painting, drawing, and sculpting skills, often depicting contemporary First Nations peoples and culture. Paul became heavily immersed in First Nations culture and spirituality shortly after asking the late Chief John Snow to bless his young sons and niece in a traditional Indigenous ceremony, even though John Snow was also an ordained minister. This ceremony was pivotal for Paul's continued strong interest in First Nations culture, as a loon flew directly over his family and cried out at the conclusion of the ceremony. As Paul says, "After that moment, I was hooked. I knew that the First Nations had a profound connection with the natural world that I wanted to learn more about."
Paul Rasporich with Chief John Snow.
In his teaching life, Paul has held a variety of positions that supported First Nations youth. His art career was reinvigorated with the collaboration of his grade 1 and 2 students and singer Ian Tyson. Paul's students wrote a song to cheer up a Golden Eagle named Spirit who was blind as result of having been shot. Paul produced the song and video A Song for Spirit. After that song, Paul went on to design two of Ian Tyson's album covers, Raven Singer and Carnero Vaquero.
Paul currently lives in Okotoks, Alberta with his wife Lee Kvern, and is working on an exhibition of paintings, and as well his sculpture of Nicholas Black Elk that he hopes to see upscaled into a monument at Black Elk Peak, situated just a few miles West of Mount Rushmore. Paul's work is in many private, public, and corporate collections. He has been short-listed to paint many of Canada's former Prime Ministers by the House of Commons in Ottawa, and was also considered to paint Queen Elizabeth for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notely in her office standing in front of my painting, 'Midnight Feeding."
Alberta Premier Rachel Notely coverses with PM Justin Trudeau as my painting looms behind the Alberta and Canadian flag.