What Have We Done With Us? oil/canvas 24 x 30 x .75
(that which one chooses to read) and life experience are inextricably related. Life experience, then is inextricably related with what one chooses to paint. I am a fan of the work of Louise Erdrich. I found Love Medicine and Plague of Doves to be both haunting and a bit disturbing. When I was in elementary school, our class assignment was to question our relatives about our heritage. In a super-moment (one that remains strongly engrained in the conscious), I asked my grandfather where our ancestors came from. He replied that my grandmother was a "wild injun". My grandmother gave him a mean glance and then went about her chores....she was a woman of few words. I thought it was a joke, even though she really did look Native American. In years to come, I did find out that her own mother was the child of such a "bi-racial" relationship. The details are quite sketchy but researched to a degree by a cousin. I have no desire to undertake the task of genealogy. But the interest is there. That my tolerance of cold, that my extremely slow metabolism and my love of silence could be a product of genetic coding. When Twelve Eagles posed, I undertook the project with enthusiasm. Indian art runs the gamut from being a bit scientific (as specimens from The New World) to a bit too sweet as in "cute little Indian girl". But as I worked, I realized that even though Twelve Eagles is authentic, she came off as a beautiful woman in a costume, as defined by my narrow middle-class-America-Ohio-to-be-specific cultural dictionary.
"What Have We Done With Us?" was painted of a sketch of Twelve Eagles. I see myself in her.