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Behind the Lines - Where the Stories Begin

My art is rooted in Indigenous spirituality learned and practiced over the span of 30 years of living it, walking it, and learning it. The depth of these teachings often extends to the subtle nuances found in my work. I try to use my art to teach about how to think Indigenously, how to understand the deep connection to the land that we all have, even when we don't acknowledge it. I can only convey what I know through my own established filters of experience and understanding. Most of my understanding about my path comes through the teachings of my Cree Elders and through the ceremonies I have been privileged to be a small part of.

Lifting the Wehpinasona (print offerings) is a piece that speaks to the importance of the print (cloth) that is offered in ceremony. Many years ago, gifts would be offered to the Creator and to the Lodge Keeper before a ceremony. Much prayer goes into these things. These gifts were sometimes released in a sacred fire at the end of the ceremony in gratitude for the assistance of the Spirit Helpers. I've seen spectacularly beautiful things released in ceremonial fires.

In this particular piece of work, a pitiful man with little means is on his way to ceremony with his tattered print. The wind picks it up and plays with the man's offerings, acknowledging the print long before it reaches the fire. In these simple actions, we see that the material things that we have in our possession mean little in the grand scheme of things - what is in our heart is far more important to the Creator of our understanding.

The tattered cloth tells the Creator that the man has nothing extravagant to offer, but is giving what little he has. The humility of this action is acknowledged and honoured by the Creator's Spirit Helper, by the wind and by the Thunderbirds that are gathering in the dark rain clouds in the distance. These are powerful helpers. To those who might be unobservant, they would merely see a man with tattered blankets fighting a windstorm, but to a person who sees with spirit eyes, this is humility being blessed. This is a man who is defined by his spirit and not by his poverty. This is a small part of what it means to live life on the Good Red Road.

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