May 28, 2020;
The icon has been completed. I will be posting a picture of it in the next day (or 2) once my son Stephen Prevost has done his photo shoot and processed a jpeg for sharing.
Joseph Chiwatenhwa (I use his name of birth Chiwatenhwa) has been a great companion and guide through the work on his icon. That will always be very dear to me. As with other icons I've written, there is a point of transition once the preparation and initial elements have been set, where the 'person' becomes present and when I am naturally drawn in conversation and prayer. There were times when an early design choice wasn't sitting well with me, and needed to be changed, and it was an automatic 'Thank you Chiwatenhwa for guiding my way'. I trusted his direction. On any given day, it began with a 'Good morning Chiwantenhwa.' and placing my hand on his image, asking for his continued guidance. And with my studio also being my living, his presence was always felt, with his eyes ever watchful. The process took longer, because of the changes from the pandemic, and a series of life hurdles along the way, but Chiwantenhwa was very patient, as was my contact with the school that commissioned the icon. But then, the access route for delivering a competed icon was closed a few months ago, with the closure of the ferry sailing to Horseshoe Bay due to the Carona Virus. It has been announce that it will reopen on June 3rd, but it will be some time before will be safer to due the crossing. Also, the school has been closed, again due to the pandemic. But Chiwantenhwa will get to his new home eventually. But he will be missed in our home when the time comes.
May 13, 2020;
I've been busy working on detailing the icon of Chiwatenhwa. I need to complete these before I can continue on the arm, chest and face. All 3 of the following areas shown in the pictures, are still in need of more work.
May 10, 2020;
I'd been working on detailing on the icon, but with the combination of COVID-19 and the cancellation of the ferry sailings between here and Horseshoe Bay on the Mainland, delivering the icon was going to be delayed indefinitely. This opened some time to think everything through and reevaluate. The realities of the corona virus weighs on my ability to keep supporting my family through my iconography and artwork. I had to take some time to ponder what the options were or could be, and how I can best proceed forward. Is there a way to adjust what I do and still be reasonably assured that I can recover from this pandemic; making a base income to keep the home front afloat? An artist can always experiment with various art forms, but the reality is such that, when developing a new focus, one has to start from scratch in getting any momentum for sales. And that takes time and financial stability to get through such a period. But this artist lives hand to mouth.
It is impossible to know when icon commissions could be possible for clients, as this pandemic will affect each in very different ways. I am searching for the best way of moving forward with the totem studies, hopefully with trust from some First Nations. So these are weighty times. I've gone in circles in my thoughts around all this, but I keep coming back to my passion for the icons and for the totems studies!
The past week has been about gathering my thoughts and transposing them onto paper. I need to get that sorted out for myself to remain clear about my goals and priorities. You always need to review and reassess as you move along. I believe that I've reached a point where I've done that, and having reached out to a key contact in the hope of counsel, I now need to get back to Chiwatenhwa's icon. He has been patient and has guided the way. I am also grateful of my followers being patient, waiting the see the completed icon. It will come.
April 1, 2020:
Each icon has its own journey, and its prototype will guide the process, sometimes in unexpected ways, through a happy accident; initially distressing, until you discover that it led to what the prototype (in this case Joseph Chiwatenhwa) actually wanted. Yes, the Spirit guides, but I've always believed in how each prototype guides as well. Now that the gold leafing has been done, and the inscription done, it has been given its first coat of protective sealer. Once set, I will be able to return to developing the image itself. Note: I will be preparing a commentary on the icon once it is completed, which will be posted on this website under 'First Nations Icons'.
March 21, 2020:
I reached that point where i just needed to begin prepping for gold leafing. In doing so, There is always some restoring to do along the edges of the image one done. With this icon, there is the added challenge of the features and hair roach which will have gilded through them. I've had to sand these down to a red base and will then replace once the gold leaf is in place.
March 19, 2020:
I've made a number of changes. A natural process with a new design.
February 25, 2020:
Base under colours are underway on the icon.
February 17, 2020:
The icon has been prepped and gessoed, and the design inked in. The first coats of Red Bole have been applied.
February 12, 2020:
Message for the 2010 National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal Peoples by the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council
To all the faithful in parishes and dioceses across Canada:
We turn to the Lord for peace, solidarity and inner strength for all!
December 12 marks an important celebration in the Catholic Church in Canada, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal Peoples. We ask, especially today, that you devote your prayers for the special intentions of all indigenous peoples, in Canada and around the world. On the occasion of the 2010
National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal People, we honour the life of Joseph Chiwatenhwa.
When Pope John Paul II made his historic visit to Canada in September, 1984, he visited the National Canadian Martyrs Shrine in Midland, Ontario. He explained that the Jesuits came in the 1620’s and founded the first house of prayer in Huronia. The Jesuits were assisted by the Huron and relied on the support of people such as Joseph Chiwatenhwa. The Pope spoke of him, saying: “of great importance to the Church of Huronia is Joseph Chiwatenwa, who, together with his wife Aonnetta, his brother Joseph and other family members, lived and witnessed to their faith in a heroic manner.”
This may have been the first time that the people of Canada heard of Joseph Chiwatenhwa. His story is contained in a book entitled Friends of God, written by Bruce Henry in 1991. Chiwatenhwa was his birth name. When he first met the Jesuits in 1636, he was very touched by their teachings, even though they were being blamed by other Huron for the epidemics that were ravaging Huronia. Chiwatenhwa himself fell sick; after his recovery, however, he was baptized, on August 16, 1637, by Father Jean de Brébeuf, and given the Christian name Joseph. His wife, Aonette, was baptized on March 19, 1638; her Christian name was Marie. Their marriage was blessed on the same day; this was the first Catholic wedding in Huronia.
Joseph became the first lay administrator in the Catholic Church in Canada, in 1639. He helped the Jesuits translate hymns and prayers from French into Huron. He was impressed with the teachings of Saint Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises. During his eight-day silent retreat, he composed a prayer that reveals his profound experience with Jesus: “You love us so deeply that all I can do in return is to offer myself to you. I chose you as my elder and chief. There is no one else.” In adopting his new faith, Joseph drew on many of the spiritual and cultural teachings of his people; he entered the Catholic Church as a Huron. This helped him spread the Good News to many members of his family and tribe.
Joseph Chiwatenhwa had a premonition that his life would be taken in a violent way because of his dedication to and fervent love of Jesus. He was martyred on August 2, 1640, at the age of 38. Father Lalemant wrote a letter in which he described him as “a teacher of the Christian faith among the native people. In this past year, he has made himself their apostle.”
After Joseph’s death, more members of the Huron nation were baptized into the Catholic Church. His wife Marie Aonette, his brother and other members continued to help and assist the Jesuits.
Pope John Paul II said at Huronia that “the worthy traditions of the Indian tribes were strengthened and enriched by the Gospel message … not only is Christianity relevant to the Indian peoples, but Christ, in the members of his Body, is himself Indian.“ Let us be inspired by the faith of Joseph Chiwatenhwa, his wife, Marie Aonette, and their families. They believed in their brother and Saviour Jesus when he spoke the words recorded by Saint John (20:29): “You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
February 12, 2020:
While preparing the icon, I just wanted to highlight another essential tool for what I do. It is impossible to get 100% of the muslin to be fulled adhered without having a few small air pockets, especially in the inner corners. A syringe is the best way of getting more adhesive medium into the air pocket. In the early days, I would have to put a cut into the air pocket muslin in order to brush in some medium. A syringe needle leaves no mark and pushes medium throughout the pocket. You can then work the excess medium towards the syringe's hole, which also fixes the muslin into place.
February 11, 2020:
The icon board has been constructed, the muslin adhered, and now the gesso coats begin.
February 6, 2020:
With the Kwaguitl Ancestor painting completed
I'll be packing it for shipping, and then I can begin the process of preparing the next icon board for St. Thomas Aquinas High School Chapel; this time for Joseph Chiwatenhwa, born in 1602 into the Bear clan, in lands of the Wendat, or Wyandot tribe.