I have been thinking a lot about finding hope and value. How we can find that hope, as individuals and as a community on our journey through life?
There is no word in our Ojibwe language for my profession. In the English language I would identify as an artist, aadizookewinini is what we say, Which means Storyteller.
My childhood was very awkward, I was very awkward, I’m still awkward. There are moments when I feel as if I walk this world with only a small amount of companionship, which is my spouse and children. It won't be long before my children will be off to walk on a separate path from me, but I know that we will always be parallel to one another and I take comfort in that.
As I continue to discover who I am, I have chosen to embrace the perpetual clumsy awkward person that I am. It allows me to remain hopeful on this journey that we share together.
I have utilized paintbrushes, small video, digital images, poetry and other objects as tools to tell my story and also to share the stories of others. We tell our stories in many ways, this is one of many tools I’ve embraced. How do you share your story?
Nurturing our passions, our gifts and our talents allow us to grow. Finding value within ourselves is terribly important, but also to have a balance with that. Be willing to learn. Value is a forgotten idea it seems. We don't seem to value our neighbors, value education, value diversity, etc. We can find value even with those we don't agree with... If we choose to. There are times we come across people and situations that are not ideal. This is when we need to assess situations, figure out how to respond. What can we do to make a difference? How can we leave a positive mark in the world? Can we inspire others? When we share with others, that allows positive growth in within ourselves, our homes & communities.
I take pride in my work, in what I do. Art is like a mirror of who we are, the mirror is a reflection of what is deep inside us. How we react to art is an opportunity to challenge ourselves to grow. I have spent the last several months teaching young beautiful minds a small fraction of art.
Art is pain, Art is love, love is awkward.
Art is healing, art is observations, art is experiences.
The story is Art. Living with hope is Art.
The impact of art is under appreciated. Everything in our lives has been touched by an artist in some way or another. It saddens me to hear that the Arts are going to be taking such a large direct hit by an administration that seems to have lost value in the common person. Art is an amazing investment in our national economy. It accounts for 4.2% of the Nations annual GDP, it creates jobs, over 4.7 million workers. It also creates such a dynamic platform for communities. As I grow my career, I have realized how much I under valued arts... It has such an impact on all of us.
My daughter shared her "Fortune" the other day where it said, "With Music, you must think with your heart and feel with your mind." I'm not sure where I'm going with this at the moment... but a lot of thought is running through my heart and lots of feelings in my mind...
I do ask you for this, to understand the fears, worries and hopes of one another.
I sit here and try to think rationally through things.
My health, my child's health... under attack. We both have pre -existing conditions.
My livelihood, my career in art... under attack.
The safety of women, both young and old... under attack. The Violence against Women Act is to be defunded...
The education for my children, our children... under attack. You know, Grizzlies in Schools...
The food and water for my family, for our society... under attack. Water is Life. Defend the Sacred.
The ability to soundly find retirement after working hard for decades... under attack.
This is just a short list.
I know some may think this is an exaggeration, but it is real to ME. It is real to my children. Real to many friends, family and fellow citizens. Empathy may be difficult for some, but being real and honest is what I prefer.
If you don't agree with me, my love and faith remains. Let's be supportive. Even if we don't see eye to eye.
I know that we all can work together. I am hopeful, I believe we will persevere.
For those that feel the same, let's work together and be one another's light.
Please take time to support the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts in Action, National Endowment for Humanities and Public Broadcasting.
La Bonne Annee, Ojiindiwi-giizhigad, Li Zhour di Lawn, Happy New Year!
2016 started out to be an exciting year filled with both familiar settings and new opportunity. I was excited to share the news of my fellowship with First Peoples Fund as an Artist in Business. It was an amazing experience for which I’ll always be appreciative for. The appreciation for this group is that they had faith in my beliefs and what I do, which will last a lifetime. Chi Miigwetch, many thanks, to all for support, enthusiasm and well wishes. And thank you to those who have invested in purchasing work from me. Your patronage allows me to continue my practice in art. (And invest in things such as a website!)
I admit that 2016 took me for a spin also. There was a lot of growth over this year and I’m thankful for everyone that I’ve met along the way. As someone who grew up in an isolated circle (truly a loner), taking time for various priorities, when I began putting myself out there was a learning experience. I wasn’t exactly the type of person who felt they learned much from institutions… I need and crave hands on involvement. Being out in the real world made the most sense to me. Because of this, I will be a student for the rest of my life. Continually learning. Not only in my career, but personally as well. I am far from perfect by anyone’s standards, and I have yet to achieve my own expectations. There are things that happened in this last year that I cannot explain, or interpret yet, yet they have left lasting impressions.
I was amazed to see what’s happening in Indian Country and beyond. There’s much unity. With growth and success, there is bound to be setbacks and indifferences. I’m very proud, despite the heartache, to witness and be part of something great. What I have learned over my short time here on Turtle Island, is that we don’t always agree. We shouldn’t allow disagreements to break bonds and relationships. However, we can’t force relationships either. There has been such empowerment as individuals and as collective groups. Don’t let gossip, insecurities, and lack of communication create setbacks.
My heart was filled with hope as I seen the unity that came to be when a plea was sent out by Native Youth and it was answered by our Elders, and peers. I am enamoured by the strength in women. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for protecting Mother Earth. My work is often inspired by what is happening around us in the moment. Over the years I have seen that our concerns in Indian Country continue. We need respect and prosperity. When children raised concerns about the welfare of our water and environment, the response by many was beautiful. Many people stepped up to the challenge. With that, we need to remember that this issue isn't over. Please don't forget the people of Standing Rock, and throughout the world. We have opportunity to be better and make smarter choices. It all starts with us as individuals.
I am happy 2016 concluded. It had its triumphs, I also feel that an alarming fear has overcome me in ways. For my entire existence, I’m aware of oppression, disconnect, trauma… where I come from, this ran rampant. I listened to many people discuss their concerns of society. I share some of those concerns, and others cause more concern. Now, I see that these issues are far from going away, instead, the ugliness in survival is coming full force. Despite what our immediate futures hold, I am going to stay hopeful in the ability to survive through darker times. We will navigate together if we are willing to.
I observed a conversation regarding “Colorism,” and other issues, such as lateral racism. There are people that overcome adversity. There are some who manage adversity. Others are trying to navigate their way through. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for others. I’ve learned this personally, with my health, my spirituality, my relationships and my career.
I am amazed by how we continually choose to judge people by the book covers they’re born with. Weeks ago, a young man said, “Why does racism exist?” My heart ached as I wonder the same thing on a continual basis. I wasn’t able to come up with total words of wisdom… but I offered, “Many people desire control over others. Many fear what is different and what they choose to not understand. I’m glad that you are here to ask such an important question.” We all differ from one another. Differences, diversity, are wonderful things. These things should not be faults as some treat them. Differences should be embraced and celebrated.
I absolutely love learning what others have to offer… even if I don’t agree with it. This gives me the capability to grow. I may not appear as such, however, I appreciate it. Maybe I don’t learn as fast as others, nor do I expect others to pick up… but keep persevering. Make those changes within yourselves, and don’t be afraid to keep sharing that with others. Hopefully they will also see that positive change, as well as that happiness which is measured by what you see inside yourself.
With that, I’m excited, anxious, nervous to the new year. I look forward to more growth with in me, I look forward to the world to rise above. Cheers to 2017. I’m thankful that I can begin the year with healthy children, a healthy husband and my perpetual awkwardness in society.
New Year, New Adventures.
Chi Miigwetch 2016. BooZhoo! Aniin 2017!