Sharing a few thoughts - Dec. 22, 2015
Before I continue with the next in the Journal series on the individual paintings, I just need to air the weight of a heavy heart. I just wanted to clarify that my focus in the journal series on the individual paintings is to present the background of my own journey with the great treasures of the West Coast Masters, and not as an anthropological project. I do record key bits of information about each totem within each journal entry, to remain faithful in honouring the totems and their creators.
I had been shunned by a few non First Nations artists because of my series on the totems, which already weighed on my heart as these are artists whose work I respect. And it does pain the heart when the same respect isn't applied to me. But I've already touched upon this in an earlier journal entry. But I was saddened that a First Nations artist that I have the world of respect for, had recently unfriended me on Facebook, probably connected to this series or related to my attempts in trying to get a few more sales in order to eat and pay the bills. There may have been concern that I had created a jpeg of one of my paintings with a Christmas bow on it to try and get a more festive message out. But there is no way to know. Unfriending doesn't explain anything. It weighs on my heart, as I am an artist after all, complete with the sensitivities that goes with the package. I am simply following my heart and passion and yes, I know that I overthink the integrity thing, but that is me. But as a struggling artist, even though a few have commented on how amazing my work is, I still struggle to survive, and it weighs on me to know that some whom I respect, chose to sever a tie with me rather then engage in a dialog. I truly feel that my sincerity and deep sense of integrity in my work, deserves the respect of being given the opportunity for that dialog and to be heard. The artist in me needs that affirmation of knowing I have allies out there. Otherwise it becomes a very lonely place.
I suspect that a recent email exchange with a granting body also had that underlying shun because of the focus of my current series and that it currently does not officially have First Nations artists connected to the project to sanction it. It is a completely new niche and I understand that there is a concern of setting a wrong precedent in making any statement about Andre Prevost and his work. God knows that I have tried to find that beginning of dialog of my work, and when I do get that chance, those I speak with, understand what I'm doing. I've had a long life of being the square peg trying to fit a round hole. My years as an Iconographer was the same. A French Latin Rite guy writing icons, who has a deep love for the Byzantine Rite but could never be fully accepted because I am not from the Slavic heritage. Some couldn't wrap their minds around that. And in recent years, even with my body of work in that field, fewer and fewer Byzantine communities are using my services as a growing number of Slavic Iconographers have established themselves in Canada. That is natural in the grand scheme of things, but even though I understand that, it makes it no less heavy on the heart, and doesn't alleviate the feeling of being cast aside. For some, my work is too Byzantine, and for others, not Byzantine enough. So it comes as no surprise to me that I find myself in another similar quandary with the Journeying With The Totems series. I am not from the First Nations heritage but so love its art and culture. But again, it leaves me still straddling that fence.
Maybe one day. I remember being told that, when the dearest mentor in my life was in his dying days, voicing his biggest question about his life, "Did I make a difference?" I undertsand that question.
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