Tuesday, February 14, 2012

His Messenger - Our Prayers 2011


His Messenger – Our Prayers,
Bronze,
Waterloo Region Museum,
September, 2012

His Messenger – OurPrayers 2011
Bronze ongranite
6.0 x 5.0 x4.5 feet

His Messenger – Our Prayers is a visual and tactile renderingof the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Creator. In many indigenous cultures, Eagle isregarded as the Creator’s messenger and burning tobacco, sage, sweet grass orcedar, a means of having our prayers rise to our Creator. Our prayers are carried on the wings of aneagle as it is set free in fire and smoke.

The prayerbeing offers is the Thanksgiving Address - Ohenton Kariwahtekwen. Icons and Mohawk text scribed into the bronzehighlight: The People, Our Mother Earth, The Grasses/Plants/Vegetation, TheThree Sisters, The Waters, The Wild Animals, The Trees/Bushes, Maple, The Birds,The Four Winds, The Thunderers, Our Elder Brother – The Sun, Our Grandmother –The Moon, The Stars, Teachers and The Creator

Art can bea powerful vehicle to share political and cultural perspectives. Hopefully, His Messengers – Our Prayers will help all peoples – native and nonnative – realize we sometimes need divine intervention to get the most out ofrespect, wisdom, good minds and cooperation. We should never think we can or need to face life toughest challengesalone.

David M. General



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

His Messenger - Our Prayers



His Messenger – Our Prayers 2010

Madoc Marble (maquette)

Polychrome

12.0 x 10.0 x 9.0 inches

6.0 x 5.0 x 4.5 feet (full scale outdoor artwork cast in bronze)

His Messenger – Our Prayers is a vision and tactile rendering of the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Creator. I many indigenous cultures, Eagle is regarded as the Creator’s messenger. In many indigenous cultures, the burning of tobacco, sage, sweet grass or cedar is also a means of having our prayers rise to the Creator.

In His Messenger – Our Prayers our prayers are carried on the wings of an eagle as it is set free in fire and smoke. The prayer being offers is the Thanksgiving Address - Ohenton Kariwahtekwen. Design considerations do not allow for the full text so icon and text will be used to highlight: The People, Our Mother Earth, The Grasses/Plants/Vegetation, The Three Sisters, The Waters, The Wild Animals, The Trees/Bushes, Maple, The Birds, The Four Winds, The Thunderers, Our Elder Brother – The Sun, Our Grandmother – The Moon, The Stars, Teachers and The Creator

Art can be a powerful vehicle to share political and cultural perspectives. Hopefully, His Messengers – Our Prayers will help all peoples – native and non native – realize we sometimes need divine intervention to get the most out of respect, wisdom, good minds and cooperation. We should never think we can or need to face life toughest challenges alone.

David M. General

May, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turtle Island - Toronto Zoo




Turtle Island

Indigenous Peoples across North America refer to the land on which they live as Turtle Island. Sculptor David M. General has appropriately titled an outdoor stone work created for the Turtle Island Conservation Partnership – Turtle Island. The work, an assemblage of marble, slate and limestone is fashioned to represent both a continent and an amphibian. Turtle is prominent in creation stories; as a clan symbol; in music; art and as the basis for indigenous lunar calendars. Flat stone has been used to simplify the shell on Turtle Island to highlight a thirteen section pattern – thirteen cycles of the Moon.

David M. General

David is Oneida and a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, near Brantford, Ontario. Prior to his art career David worked as a Journeyman Bridge and Structural Steel Ironworker, an Elementary School Teacher and an Arts & Culture Officer with the federal government. David’s career as a full time artist began in 1980 and for 30 years he worked and developed a distinctive style for work, mainly in marble and bronze. David’s art related serve includes Co-Chair for the Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry and a Trustee with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario.

In addition to his art, David’s Lacrosse coaching career is highlighted by five national “A” titles that include Minor, Junior and Major Championships. This earned David induction into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame. David also served several years on the Six Nations Elected Council, first as a Councillor and then as Elected Chief from 2004 to 2007.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Language Vest



The Language Vest 2008

Polychrome Canvas and Mixed Media

61.0 X 44.0 cm.

The Language Vest is artistic commentary on qualities and character of leadership that all peoples recognize and expect. It is the fourth in a series of vests works on leadership, health and personal healing.

The first two vest works: The Vest (2007) and Personal Body Armour (2008) are actual bullet proof vests, more commonly referred to as body armour. The third vest work: The Healing Vest, an artistic construction, further elaborates the protection theme by introducing an interpretation of the phase “skin seven layers thick”. This phrase is used in Iroquoian culture to describe the toughness, resilience and ‘thick skinned’ determination you need to faces the rigours of leadership.

The Language Vest builds on and refines everything presented in The Healing Vest. The major difference, besides a few design details, is the use of indigenous languages to provide greater context to English words used as titles for fourteen different panels (layers of skin), seven in front and seven on the back.

The Language Vest uses exactly the same words as were used on The Healing Vest. On the chest panels we see: LOVE, VISION, GENEROSITY, FAITH, FAMILY, DREAMS and FRIENDSHIP. On the back panels we see: RESPECTFUL, HONEST, RESPONSIBLE, COURAGEOUS, CONSIDERATE, OBJECTIVE and TRUTHFUL.

The words have been translated into: Gitksan, Cree, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga and Mi’mgaq to help emphasize requisites of good leadership are universal. “Skin seven layers thick” protects the wearer from harshness and vindictiveness and reaffirms the healing powers of strong character and unselfish purpose.

The Medicine Wheel palette (red, yellow, black and white) is common to all four vest works. These colours represent the Four Directions and Four Races of Peoples. Although the Medicine Wheel is not part of traditional teachings in every nation or tribe of Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island (North America) – it is respected and held in high regard by all.

The Language Vest and its companion vest works are an acknowledgement of issues and conflicts that test the character of those who take up the challenges of leadership. Regardless of language, we all have words that describe admirable traits and qualities we want our leaders to possess.

David M. General

February, 2008

Saturday, November 27, 2010

DOJINAC

DOJINAC

Polychrome Wood 2004

164.5 x 61.0 x 61.0 cm

(643/4” x 24.0” x 24.0”)

Collection: Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

DOJINAC is a building “game” that incorporates many of the historic events, issues, advancements of the aboriginal peoples in Canada. The inspiration for DOJINAC comes from a number of different sources. It is reminiscent of the cribbing that was set in place to stabilize the outriggers of cranes; the piling of hardwoods to air dry; and the game JANGA.

DOJINAC is, in a sense, a game that represents the political stability of aboriginal peoples. Pieces are set four per layer with the next layers set at 90 degrees alternately. The object of the “game” is to remove pieces from anywhere in structure and place them in the top layers and have the structure grow upward, as far as you dare, without it toppling. Ultimately, you do not want to be the person responsible for that collapse.

Each layer consists of four pieces that represent the four sacred colours of the medicine wheel. Some consider the four colours to represent four different races while others believe they represent the four directions. Each of the pieces is titled will an issue or event from our history and a list of the pieces will follow.

The manner in which they some of the lettering has been applied is significant. The red pieces are lettered in white finger prints and the very “unsubtle” message is: white finger prints all over our “red” history. The white pieces are lettered in red finger prints, symbolic of our blood and toil as we work to regain the benefits of inherent, aboriginal and treaty rights.

The following is a list of titles for each piece. Please note that the yellow pieces, the brightest pieces, have been titled with all that aboriginal peoples hold sacred and as sources of hope. The black pieces have been titled with the darkest events and issues that aboriginal peoples have endured. The colour lists are by no means exhaustive but represent a starting point from which refinements and alterations can be made. The colour lists are as follows.

RED

WHITE PAPER

LAND CLAIMS

C-7 FNGA

SEC. 91.24

INDIAN AGENT

INDIAN ACT

GENOCIDE

RESERVATIONS

TREATIES

COLONIALISM

TAXATION

ASSIMILATION

WHITE

RCAP

DELGAMUUKW

INHERENT RIGHTS

MARSHALL

TREATY RIGHTS

ABORIGINAL RIGHTS

PENNER

OKA

GUERIN

SPARROW

CALDER

SEC. 35

YELLOW

ABORIGINAL YOUTH

SAGE

SWEETGRASS

CEDAR

MOTHER EARTH

CREATOR

DRUM

SONGS

STORIES

ELDERS

TEACHINGS

TOBACCO

BLACK

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS

EXTINGUISHMENT

BILL C-7 FIRST NATIONS GOVERNANCE ACT

BILL C-6

NON ASSERTION/ FALL BACK RELEASE TECHNIQUE

1995 INHERENT RIGHTS POLICY

NON – NON DEROGATION AMENDMENT

D.O.J. / I.N.A.C.

BILL C-19 FIRST NATIONS FISCAL INSTITUTIONS ACT

ABROGATION

COURTS, COURTS, COURTS

DEROGATION

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Vest






















The Vest

Polychrome Body Armour (Bullet Proof Vest) 2006
Wood, Stone, Mixed Media
Collection: Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The Vest (actual Police body armour) has been painted using the Colours of the Medicine Wheel. Most of you will be familiar with the interpretation of the colours as representing races of peoples and global direction. Although they maintain the very same Medicine Wheel reference, I have taken the liberty to introduce an addition layer of reference.

In my treatment, white on red represents all that has been imposed and in many cases forced upon Aboriginal Peoples across Turtle Island. Imperialism gave way to colonialism and with it came the treaty making process that continues to this day. We have seen the evolution of the Indian Act and countless legislative initiatives all conceived “in our best interest”. The new millennium began with a “suite of legislation” that included the First Nations Governance Act (FNGA); the First Nations Fiscal & Statistical Management Act; and First Nations Specific Claims Resolution Act. More recently we have seen Matrimonial Real Property (MRP) and Bill C-44 (amendment to section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act that would have impact on First Nations).

Red on white represents progressive efforts to rectify and reconcile the long standing issues and concerns that Aboriginal Peoples (First Nation, Inuit and Metis) have endured for centuries. Victories in the courts in cases such as Calder, Guerin, Sparrow, Delgamuukw, Haida Nation and Taku River have clarified treaty relationships and established standards of conduct for our treaties partners – Canada, the provinces and the territories.

Gray on black represents our darkest era. Scaring of the residential schools experience will be the lasting evidence of the deep wounds suffered by our people as they were torn from the families, communities, their nations and the land. INAC and DOJ have long been regarded as the agents of our misery and obstacles to our revitalization. Our communities are plagued with housing shortages, drinking water crisis, alcoholism, and suicide. Many feel there is no way to pray to our Creator because we have lost our language. Despair and hopelessness have become permanent residence.

I have used brown on yellow to recognize and applaud those in our communities who have never given up hope that the desperate condition of Aboriginal communities can and will change. Our spiritual leaders draw us back to the teachings. They remind us of all the Creator has provided. Our prayers will be heard if we remember to use tobacco, sweet grass, sage, and cedar as was intended. The drum, the songs, the stories are all constant reminders that we have a duty to ensure that our elders are to be respected and we work to create a better world for those generations yet to come.

The Vest (bullet proof) was created as a symbol of all the history, events and circumstances that we take on when we accept the role and responsibilities of leadership. Quite appropriately – you are wearing your office. The inside of the Vest bears the same treatment as the outer surface. This is an acknowledgement that many of our leaders carry the issues and matters very close to them.

Accepting the role of leadership has its drawbacks. There are threats to our efforts to improve the lives of our people. In my case, it comes from those who purport to be traditionalist. In addition to the Vest there is an internal component – a Medicine Wheel – that serves two purposes. First, it separates the inner surfaces allowing a view of internal treatment. Second, it provides a heart for a hand made arrow, reminiscent of those traditional fashioned, to pierce. The “rustic” arrow enters the Vest, transverse from left to right. The words HATE, FRUSTRATION, PAIN, ANGER, and FEAR are written on the shaft.

Despite all that the Creator has given and promises, there are those of discontent who see no way to deal with circumstances but to lash out at the whole world. There are those who use anger and hate to create reaction and there are those who are willing to follow “leaders” who claim direct action and violence is the only answer. This is not the way the Creator wants us to exist or our leaders to lead. We achieve nothing when we hate or when we are angry.

Leaders, who pursue a more responsible path, do so at the risk of getting little support. It is difficult to defuse the multitude, who feel justified in their anger. Leaders choosing this approach are only human and there are those occasions when an arrow pierces all the protection the Creator had provided and we bleed our sorrow. This is represented by the red ribbons that stream from the red centre (heart) of the Medicine Wheel.

The Vest is an eclectic piece that sums up my experience – the artist politician or the political artist. There are very few who can claim my perspective. Upon reflection, I find both realms highly compatible. Both require vision and patience. Both can, at times, be provocative. In the end, the time and energy we set toward our works will determine whether they survive the test of time.

The Vest carries the same colour scheme as DOJINAC, with additional entries in to each of the four colour areas.

RED

WHITE PAPER
LAND CLAIMS
C-7 FNGA
SEC. 91.24
INDIAN AGENT
INDIAN ACT
GENOCIDE
RESERVATIONS
TREATIES
COLONIALISM
TAXATION
ASSIMILATION
MATRIMONIAL REAL PROPERTY (MRP)
BILL C-44


WHITE

RCAP
DELGAMUUKW
INHERENT RIGHTS
MARSHALL 1 & 2
TREATY RIGHTS
ABORIGINAL RIGHTS
PENNER
OKA
GUERIN
SPARROW
CALDER
SEC. 35
MIKISEW CREE
DENE THA
KELOWNA ACCORD
IPPERWASH REPORT
COMPENSATION
IBA
LAWFUL OBLIGATION

YELLOW

ABORIGINAL YOUTH
SAGE
SWEETGRASS
CEDAR
MOTHER EARTH
CREATOR
DRUM
SONGS
STORIES
ELDERS
TEACHINGS
TOBACCO
EAGLE
BUFFALO
SPIRIT HELPER
SALMON
RIVERS
LAKES
MOUNTAINS


BLACK

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS
EXTINGUISHMENT
BILL C-7 FIRST NATIONS GOVERNANCE ACT
BILL C-6
NON ASSERTION/ FALL BACK RELEASE TECHNIQUE
1995 INHERENT RIGHTS POLICY
NON – NON DEROGATION AMENDMENT
D.O.J. / I.N.A.C.
BILL C-19 FIRST NATIONS FISCAL INSTITUTIONS ACT
ABROGATION
COURTS, COURTS, COURTS
DEROGATION
ALCOHOLISM
HOUSING SHORTAGE
WATER CRISIS
SUICIDE

Vision Helmet


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Words of Hope

Words of Hope – Words of Responsibility
On Tuesday January 20, 2009, billions of people around the world were captivated by coverage of ceremony and celebration for President Barack Obama’s Inauguration. Thousands of First Nations Peoples across Canada would have also taken time to watch and listen to this historic event.

For the majority of those who followed the two year long process of nominations, campaigns and the election, the highlight may well have been the eighteen minutes and ten seconds that it took President Obama to deliver his Inaugural speech.

There has been no shortage of analysis and accolades for President Obama’s message. His words stirred a nation, and the world. President Obama clearly articulated vision, challenge, responsibility and commitment. His demeanour and words have achieved more in two years of campaigning then all the conflicts the world has endured during the same period.

Everyone will have their own favourite passages. The following are portions of President Obama’s speech that I found thought provoking and relevant to our situation here at Six Nations of the Grand River:

· “a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age”

· “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics”

· “…our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time is passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking…”

· “- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply”

· “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works”. This could read: The question is not whether our government is traditional or elected, but whether it works.

· “And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government”

· “a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous”

· “power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please”

· “we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass”

· “the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve”

· “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history”

· ‘know that your people will judge you by what you can build, not what you destroy”

· “…there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task”

Obama has drawn upon the visions and words that came from the turbulent times of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. We are involved in our own turbulent times. We need to find hopeful words and responsible words that will move us beyond impasses to desired progress and resolve.

The majority of our citizens have great hope for Six Nations of the Grand River – they also know it will require a tremendous investment. The majority of our citizen know: we need to make changes in the way we treat and regard ourselves; we must be the example of how we want the rest of the world to see us and relate to us; we must encourage our technologically savvy younger to embrace the highest standard of civic responsibility – they are our hope

As President Obama states, “This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny”. Our most precious gift to our future generations will be our example of the “Good Minds” and the power of “Good Words”. In this, we will be “giving our all to a difficult task”.

David M. General

January 25, 2009