The City of Burlington has commissioned Ontario-based Indigenous artist David General to create a permanent public art piece for the entrance of the Joseph Brant Museum. This project is funded in part by the generous donation of Dan Lawrie. The artwork entitled Conversations and Stories, will be installed in early 2022.
Conversations and Stories will feature two women on their way to see the new Joseph Brant Museum. One woman carries a child – her granddaughter. The theme for this sculpture is Indigenous Language. Old people at home say “you learn your language on your Mother’s knee”- I believe that. Language gives you a sturdy foothold on lessons to be learned from the Thanksgiving Address, Seven Grandfather Teachings, Great Law of Peace and Medicine Wheel.
I’m not a storyteller but storytelling, humour and laughter guide my creative processes. If laughter is any indication good stories are being shared, I’m certain the two women are benefiting from the occasion.
Onkwehon:we/Rotinonshon:ni culture has many significant stories describing of our evolution. The most prominent of which is our Creation Story. It has been presented in paintings, carvings, sculpture, dance and film. Its complexity makes it difficult to capture every event and detail in its telling. In my proposed artwork language, art and education becomes our tract to discovering and expressing ourselves in creates new entertainment, adventure, enlightenment and delight. There is much to learn.
The Ohenton Karihwatekhwa (Thanksgiving Address) Niizhwaaswi Mishoomsag Kinomaaganagaawinan (Seven Grandfather Teachings), Skakehràtsherat (Dish with One Spoon) and Karháktha (Edge of the Woods) and Mshkiki Detibsenh (Medicine Wheel), are among words to be explained.
The Covenant Chain, Two Row, Dust Fan and Hiawatha Wampum Belts and Great Tree of Peace are symbols and icons that will be used to present the breadth of information held by Joseph Brant Museum.
Conversations and Stories presents balance of Onkwehon:we/Rotinonshon:ni and Anishinabek languages. Both offer significant messages for human relationships and wellbeing. Both facilitate awareness, education, appreciation and understanding Indigenous Peoples wish to share. Both celebrate indigenous resilience, contributions of our people have made to share, teach and protect. We have not forgotten how to honour our Grand Mothers, Grand fathers and indigenous warrior/leaders and our Creator – Shonkwaya’tison in our language.
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. In 1984, David was a founding member and co-chair of the Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry (SCANA), a national native artist organization that successfully lobbied the National Gallery of Canada for greater recognition and representation for First Nations Art. In 1987, the National Gallery bought the first of many works by contemporary native artists.