This is one of a group of paintings that flashed across my inner eye and I quickly sketched it out. The painting took me 9 months of labour to complete, growing at its own pace. I couldn’t have rushed it if I tried, and sometimes I did try. As it came closer and closer to completion I realized how much of my life was hidden in this piece like small bits of secret code, almost indecipherable. I look at it with a sense of satisfaction at being finished, and a sense of longing for the work to always continue.
There is a simplicity and a complexity to this piece. Some will see the hand as comforting, others will see it as threatening. What does it mean? I honestly don’t know. All I did was transcribe the already formed image onto canvas. Sometimes I feel like the Raven, defeated, hungry, hurt and weary. I just need to rest. And sometimes I feel like the Woman. Is my heart open, or has it been ripped out? Am I an angel, a mother, or a destroyer?
In the end it doesn’t matter. And that’s the way it works for life, too. All that matters is that there is a connection and a truth.
So I’m outside. Answering backed up emails (story of my life), drinking a coffee and getting a little sunburned. The show went really well and I was so happy to see all the people who came out. My only regret is that I don’t always have time to talk to everyone that I would like. If all we had a chance to do was say a quick hello, well, at least we had that.
For those of you who couldn’t make it, the show continues until the 27th of May. If you’re in Edmonton, use it as an excuse to get outside. It’s 28C today and will be 31C tomorrow! Sooo good.
My Birthday was over the weekend and I went golfing (badly) with my soon to be Brothers In Law and we had family over for a really nice get together. It also gave me an opportunity to slow down and enjoy my time with loved ones and Loved One. Life just keepings rolling along, tickety tick in that all too real illusion of time. As I sit here in the sun watching the summer dresses float by I am reminded just how GOOD life is. An afternoon in the sun. Breathing. Old couples strolling along, young couples laughing nervously, bored couples looking at everything but each other…all faces of each other, of you, of me…dramas, played out as if we actually care about them, or as if they’re actually important.
I laugh in delight at Us. We human, thinking beings sure know how to expect things, and become disappointed if what unfolds doesn’t meet our expectations – which is almost always. The greatest moment in my life occurred when I realized that to stop getting nuts all I had to do was stop expecting. I just had to be. Be, observe, and refrain from reacting. I’m not perfect at it, but even a 10% improvement has made an enormous difference.
As you can see, spending an afternoon in the sun with me would have you frantically looking for your Blackberry or iPod just so you could escape and actually enjoy yourself!
Thoughts in the sun. Maybe I’m getting heat stroke.
Here are two paintings from the show, and the thoughts that went along with them:
Trade Offs Mixed Media on Canvas 9″ x 12″ 2010
Without the Hudson’s Bay Company there wouldn’t be this show, Half Breed Culture. Without opening up trade routes and exploiting the land, without the Voyageurs, the Metis, immigration and so on, none of us would be here. While we sometimes revile our past because of injustices done the fact remains that without all those events our world would be unrecognizable. Some say for the worse, others for the best. In the end, it’s a trade off. Because of my personal genetic background, I can’t be angry at anyone. I can only accept the past. And since I can’t change it, what else can I do? What can any of us do but accept that along with the benefits came atrocity? All we can do is decide what to do now. Not we will do in the future, but right now in this living moment. What trade offs do we make? Are we aware of them?
This piece can be seen in many ways. On one level, it is my personal story, the items in it representing different concepts and events, but it can also be a discussion about exploitation of cultures, small pox, and ongoing social issues. Or it can be just a funny old crow who loves shiny beads and is sitting there with his beak full, satisfied.
All these possible meanings, all right on the money. And on it goes. This piece is exactly why I am so passionate about creating art: the conversation you have with the work all depends on what you bring to the table, and the conversations we have with each other open the doors to new ideas, new ways of thinking that had never been there before. We trade off one another and by doing so weave our thoughts, our hearts, together.
A Good Trade Mixed Media on Paper 14″ x 11″ 2010
Somewhat of a companion piece to Trade Offs, this work continues the visual exploration of the concepts I was exploring. Here our hero sits wrapped in his blanket, warm and content, and maybe just a little bit proud! He earned this fine blanket. Perhaps he gave his furs for it, getting back an interesting, soft, beautiful covering. Maybe he has more and will gift them to those in need. Lightweight, portable, weather resistant. It’s a good trade.
Today is the day we roll out the very first Half Breed Clothing t-shirt!
What is this all about?
Well, the smaller this world gets, the more couples from different backgrounds are hooking up. The result is a growing population of people like me and probably you! Kids with mixed heritage. Whether Metis, Heinz 57, Mulatto, Eurasian, half Irish-half Scots…whatever! We’re all in this crazy experiment together.
And here’s the t-shirt to show your pride in your roots. Stand up and be proud!
And please, be so good as to spread the word!!
These shirts are artist designed (the first couple will be my own work) and hand pulled.
We’re offering shirts in Fruit of the Loom (looser fit) and American Apparel (a little more form fitting). Pretty much any colour is available within reason!
Included in this note are the first two designs we’re releasing and there are more to come as more of our artists finalize their images.
As stated by Paul Smith, Aaron Paquette’s paintings “illustrate moments of connection and conflict, both individual and communal”. Such moments are perfectly expressed in the painting, ‘Down and Out – City Living’. In this work Paquette connects with both his cultural heritage and the places, both emotional and physical, he finds himself in.
Paquette’s heritage is expressed through the elements of the raven, the Norse snake, and the First Nation’s decorative pattern in the foreground of the work.
The ‘places’ the artist finds himself in are also expressed in this painting. Aaron Paquette is an urban-dweller, and in this work the city is symbolised by the light standard and the graffiti wall. How the artist might feel about this place, and the situation faced by many First Nations/Metis peoples in the city, is movingly portrayed by the raven. Slumped in the foreground of the work, the raven is physically distanced from the symbols representing the city. The use of the complementary colours of orange and blue to separate these elements reinforces this physical distance and may reflect emotional dislocation as well. At present there are approximately 3000 homeless people in Edmonton alone, many of whom are of First Nations heritage. The figure of the raven, normally a powerful First Nations symbol, here sitting bedraggled and smoking a cigarette, functions as an evocative statement on this disturbing situation.
To be filed under the, “aren’t you too busy to add another project?” list comes this. I’ve spending some time in the past while trying to develop some images for a line of t-shirts. Not necessarily to break into any markets (he said as if he knew what he was talking about), but just because I wanted something that I didn’t see existed. I’m not one to get angry and rant about racial issues – I just don’t see the point – but I do like the idea of putting things out there that have personal meaning to me.
Being a “halfbreed” has been a source of shame and alienation to me, but it has also been something from which I’ve been able to draw a lot of strength and grow in knowledge. As an adult, I feel I was blessed to have the struggles I did, and those hard times have become a source of quiet wisdom for me as I grow old enough and still enough to discover it.
I’m happy that my parents were attracted enough to each other to make a bunch of olive-ish babies. I’m glad to be here, freckles and all! I wanted to celebrate the fact that there are a lot of us new kind of humans around. I like to think that our parents have given us only the best parts of themselves and I hope one day everyone has a nice olive-y complexion. It will mean that the old ideas of “race” (what a word to describe people, as though there are winners and losers*) have been discarded and we’re all into each other for who we are inside, not just how we appear on the surface.
And where can you get these fine designs? Well, unfortunately they’re not in production as I’ve made them entirely for myself, but if there was enough interest I’d happily get some silkscreeeners to pull a few dozen.
More designs (probably) to come!
The flowers on this design were inspired by Native American and Metis beadwork flowers that used to adorn (and still do!) everything from jackets to purses to moccassins, and these days, even key-chains.
*thanks, Sherri, for planting that idea in my head!