You have some of your sculptures in the upcoming show "Very Beautiful Things" at The Gladstone Hotel. Can you describe some of the pieces that you have decided to include in the group show, and why those specific sculptures are important to you?
All my pieces are important to me as they allow me to have time alone to think of why I care about the things Creator has given us; from a rich ancestral heritage to a future that can only get better with age as we put our efforts and time into our work and share about the past, present and future.....The sculpture entitled Gathering Our Minds is a "life piece" and it won the First Prize Blue Ribbon from the Prestigious Heard Museum in Scottsdale Arizona.This piece is a teaching tool of my Mohawk Ancestry and I cannot wait to share it with others. Another piece is an abstract carving that people are not used to seeing from me, but the meaning is so very deep, and it will take a good conversation with the viewer to understand the concept and meaning. Its entitled "Universal Healing". Another piece is entitled "Earth & Fire", A magnificent Eagle that has emerged from fire, ash and earth. Also, another piece entitled "Brother's Forever II" which is a mixed media piece of stone, bone, feather and leather. It has a poem that comes with it, explaining the expression on the Warrior's face...just to name a few.
You have been a carver/sculptor for 26 years now, what drew you to this craft? And what keeps you interested in making such a big body of work?
Someone gave me a chunk of stone and what drew me to this work was the excitement of taking nature and manipulating it just enough to allow that piece of art to dictate its own destiny my father encouraged me immensely in my artwork, and so did my mother, being an artist herself. Also Joe Jacobs, a well known carver from Six Nations really was an inspiration to me as well. Its also the challenge of a large piece of stone to see what I can unveil and expose, what is really already there the stone shows me what to uncover and sometimes, I feel as though I'm just a channel and the ancestors just come out and show themselves and their message through me, through the stone. The larger pieces are called my "life" pieces...because it took a substantial amount of my life to finish them. People always ask how long did THAT take you??..I always answer "more than an hour and less than a lifetime"...my father told me to NEVER keep track of the time it takes...it would not be fun if I did it then would become a job, and my art is not a job, it’s my life.
Can you describe your process? Where do you draw inspiration from to start a piece and what is involved technically?
The inspiration to start a piece comes from what or how I may be feeling that day. It puts me in a state of mind to focus on healing and using our First Nations symbols, images and teachings to incorporate teaching and understanding that will give the viewer an insight into us as First Nations, Onkwehonwe people. (The Keepers Of The Earth). The actual stone itself will also be inspiring to me; the colour of it, the grain, and the size of it or where it came from. Technically my tools need to be organized, sharp and ready, and my studio must be clean and ready to receive a new sculpture. I am very careful to wear the appropriate masks and eye protection, and also have my area properly vented and lighted. Smudging the area and the stone with our sacred medicines is also another thing I do before I start anything.
When you are working in the studio, what do you use to stay focused? Do you listen to music? Tell me what keeps you motivated?
Playing my flutes and creating music at the same time gives me what I need to change it up a bit ,or even write new poems for my new book will help to keep it fresh, new and evolving. Listening to music as well, and NOT answering the phone, and shutting out the outside world also helps.I really enjoy working either very late at night, or very early in the morning as there is less energy in the air from anything, accept for nature the peacefulness of the water behind my studio, the heron that lives on our peninsula, the loons, its all there to keep me motivated.
The end results also really keep me motivated, to see what has been uncovered, exposed in the stone, and of course people's comments and what they see, feel and experience when they actually see my sculpture for the first time. -DRM