I invite you to walk with me awhile, to share the journey, and share some stories; we’ll look at life from an unexpected point of view, and perhaps be given a glimpse of the future…
I am IceBear. My traditional, tribal home is Cape Croker, (Chippewas of Nawash) on the shores of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada, although I was taken from my family and community at age three and raised by the government in Toronto. It was almost half a century before I would return for a visit. But that is another story.
Now I live and work on Vancouver Island, off the west coast of Canada. From my early beginnings beside a great inland sea, I migrated west and now live by the Pacific Ocean. Culture and lifestyle is very different here from where I began. But there is much that is similar, and I have found peace, friendship and inspiration in this new land.
The Elders of my people call me a Dreamer, that is, one born to the task of transforming dreams, my own and others, into a visual reality. There was never a time when I ‘decided’ to be an artist, it was not my choice to make; there has never been any other life path for me.
The paintings and sculpture are the embodiment of Visions, of seeing in a Sacred Manner, many have been with me much of my life. There is never a time when I face a blank canvas, at a loss as to what to paint. The Visions are so many that they fill my mind. Like pebbles on a beach, I can lift each up, turn it, look at it from all sides, and decide if today is the day to bring this one into the world. Sometimes one particular Vision will call out, wanting attention, demanding to be brought to life.
Other times, I get to choose which to focus on.
My work is also an attempt to find those things that cannot be found. First, one has to discover the question that needs asking, and from there, we seek an answer. The answer is frequently there, in the art, just waiting to be discovered. For is that not why we are here?
To find Truth? To connect with Spirit? To discover the true meaning of Life? Disconcerting questions for many.
My intention is not to tell anyone what to think or feel, but to open a door into the imagination. I invite you to step out of this world and into another. Not just to see the painting, or the sculpture, but to feel it, and recognize the individual Spirit that lives in it.
Because the Visions are given to me, perhaps I should say, assigned, they are not my personal creations. That is why I do not sign my given name to them, but use my totem name.
Sometimes my paintings carry somewhat autobiographical elements, easily recognizable to other aboriginal people, because certain conditions are common to native people everywhere. Other experiences may be familiar to all, being part of the human condition that we all share.
Occasionally, I get to shut the door on the Visions, very briefly, and just paint for the fun of it, completely free from any direction by that One who has given me the responsibility of bringing these Dreams into the light. That’s when paintings like ‘Just Happy’, or ‘Butterflies are Free to Fly’ happen. They are anomalies, but are at times essential for me personally as an artist.
These Visions, and this work has helped some people feeling lost, out of place, or disconnected from their roots, to find their way home. Some may find the courage to delve into that deep, dark corner full of memories and ghosts of things lost, to allow them to surface, to free them so they can leave and let the light flow in. Some pieces prove cathartic, and cleansing.
Many of the Visions appear as environmental messages; the health of our planet, our Mother Earth and all the life forms who live on Her, is integral to our own continued existence.
This is why respect for Mother Earth and all Her creatures is omnipresent in my art. This respect is something that all aboriginal people share, and more and more non native people are beginning to understand is important to the continued existence of humans and most other lifeforms on this planet.
If this work helps one more person to begin to heal an injured Spirit, make some life change that will help expand understanding and respect, or enable one person to open their hearts to the possibilities that exist to leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it, then this art will have achieved its intended purpose.
More stories to come - - - -
IceBear’s ancestral homeland,
Cape Croker, on the shores of
Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay