Sunshine Breaks Through

Cree Teachings
24″x 26″
Mixed Media on Canvas
2010

Sohkahcahkwewin ᓱᐦᑲᐦᒐᐦᑫᐧᐃᐧᐣ

It means having strength of soul.

I called this Cree Teachings because of the wisdom I have been honoured to receive from many teachers throughout my life. Some of the teachers hurt me, some of them loved me, and sometimes it was both. Here I have made the equivalent of birch bark, and inscribed upon it, painted on it, filled it with all the mysteries I know and then let it go. The four colours can be found on some Medicine Wheels, or not, and it doesn’t matter. I used the colours because they were healing for me, they were true for me. They are also the colours of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which would never have thrived were it not for the assistance they received from the many Indigenous people of Canada who shared their knowledge of how to survive in this country. The Company listened to how to survive, but they didn’t listen to how to live.

My main pursuit in this life is is to learn to live. To learn to set aside pain, to set aside fear. To instead embrace love, to be accepting and remove judgment as much as possible. I can only learn this through my interactions with others. We are each others constant teachers and students. The wisdom of the sky and the wisdom of a tree are no more or less significant than the wisdom of an ant or even the deep knowledge of an electron. By listening, always listening, we learn. Sohkahcahkwewin.

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The Trickster King
5″ x 7″
Acrylic and Gold Leaf
on Paper
2007

This is the first time I’ve ever tried scanning a piece (rather than taking a photo) and the result really surprised me. I’m quite happy with it.

This piece continues my near obsession with a character I call the “Red Raven” based on a Native American myth about how the Raven Stole the Sun. It’s my imagining of how the raven felt when the Sun burnt his beautiful white feathers.

In the legend, Raven was once all white, and was the most spectacular of the animals. One day, he sees a child playing with a shiny golden ball (it is the Sun and the child is the grandson of the Old Man -the Creator- who gave it to him to calm his crying. Raven couldn’t resist and swept in and stole the bright object and flew off into the sky.

At this point in the world’s history, there was only night, with no moon, no sun, just the eternal stars. Previously Raven had nabbed the moon from this same place, and from the same child, and dropped it in the sky.

This time, however, Raven pays for his theft and is scorched to a crisp, all his gorgeous plumage turning midnight black. He drops the Sun in pain and now we have night and day.

Here is where I step in as an artist.

Across cultures, the Raven is a profound character of wisdom, cunning, foolishness, and spirtual portents. I decided to use these ideas to construct a pyschological concept of the Raven who stole the sun, and depicted him in the stages in between his white (spiritual) existence and black (earthly) existence.

He is at the moment in between, hovering between two planes, bridging the gap of earth and sky, physical and spiritual, seen and unseen.

He is the Trickster King.