Lucky Studio 7 - Glyde Hall

The Clar­ity of Stu­dio 7 — Glyde Hall, The Banff Centre

I’m always excited by the white­ness of a vast can­vas. With noth­ing sug­gested, it becomes the means by which thoughts and direc­tions can begin to have a life of their own and man­i­fest. There is space for some­thing to be born into.

Extrap­o­lat­ing that same bril­liant white can­vas into a three dimen­sional, fresh, white blank stu­dio space is some­times just what the doc­tor ordered. A space devoid of old work, piles of papers and the col­lec­tions of years of work, even if it’s well set up, can cause cre­ativ­ity fatigue. Much like a mind clut­tered with the hap­pen­ings of the day, there is no space for cre­ation. No room for ideas to man­i­fest. No clar­ity pos­si­ble. No hope when stuff just builds up.

“Art Is The Proper Task of Life.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

Today, I got the keys to a new space — Stu­dio #7 at The Banff Cen­tre where I’ll be work­ing on seven com­plex paint­ings for the next seven weeks for the Gwaii Haanas and final CAMP exhi­bi­tions. I’ve had them brew­ing in my mind, but they were not yet crys­tal clear. I’ll admit I’ve been excited about embark­ing on the chal­lenge, but also chal­lenged…by the cre­ative chal­lenge itself. Today, when the doors opened into white­ness with a few old pieces of fur­ni­ture, it was akin to a deep med­i­ta­tion that allowed me to see things dif­fer­ently and to focus my thoughts for the upcom­ing res­i­dency. It was fast — within a half an hour of just sit­ting within the white walls of the stu­dio, I could actu­ally SEE what the paint­ings were going to be, my angst dis­ap­peared and the solu­tions pre­sented themselves.

Work­ing on some com­plex issues with edu­ca­tion and the arts over the past week has been exhaust­ing and a big learn­ing curve — lots of new infor­ma­tion pep­pered with high emo­tions on all sides. Peo­ple are fear­ful of change and upset­ting the sta­tus quo. Fil­ter­ing through the rhetoric, pol­i­tics and indi­vid­ual agen­das has been like tak­ing some white­wash to an old fence and wip­ing away the dirt. There’s a lot of dirt on THAT fence, but it’s clear to me that there are solu­tions when you scrub hard enough. Some folks don’t like me scrub­bing that hard, but I’m deter­mined to ensure there is suc­cess. Solu­tions like this require every­one com­ing to the table with an hon­est desire to make things bet­ter for the future — lay­ing aside party pol­i­tics and juris­dic­tion in order to truly inno­vate in a clean space. Find that cre­ative solu­tion to the blank can­vas of complexity.

It’s the same when you cre­ate a paint­ing — you fol­low and act accord­ing to the Seven Grand­fa­ther Teach­ings of the Anishnabe.

Wis­dom, Love, Respect, Brav­ery, Hon­esty, Humil­ity, Truth

The Seven Grandfather Teachings

The Seven Grand­fa­ther Teach­ings” ©Jan­ice Tan­ton. 2008. Oil on can­vas. 8“x24”

  • Nib­waakaawin—Wis­dom: To cher­ish knowl­edge is to know Wis­dom. Wis­dom is given by the Cre­ator to be used for the good of the peo­ple. In the Anishn­abe lan­guage, this word expresses not only “wis­dom,” but also means “pru­dence,” or “intel­li­gence.” In some com­mu­ni­ties, Gik­endaa­sowin is used; in addi­tion to “wis­dom,” this word can also mean “intel­li­gence” or “knowledge.”
  • Zaagi’idiwin—Love: To know Love is to know peace. Love must be uncon­di­tional. When peo­ple are weak they need love the most. In the Anishi­naabe lan­guage, this word with the rec­i­p­ro­cal theme /idi/ indi­cates that this form of love is mutual. In some com­mu­ni­ties, Gizhaaweni­di­win is used, which in most con­text means “jeal­ousy” but in this con­text is trans­lated as either “love” or “zeal”. Again, the rec­i­p­ro­cal theme /idi/ indi­cates that this form of love is mutual.
  • Minaaden­damowin—Respect: To honor all cre­ation is to have Respect. All of cre­ation should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected. Some com­mu­ni­ties instead use Ozhib­waadenindi­win or Man­a­zooni­di­win.
  • Aakode’ewin—Brav­ery: Brav­ery is to face the foe with integrity. In the Anishi­naabe lan­guage, this word lit­er­ally means “state of hav­ing a fear­less heart.” To do what is right even when the con­se­quences are unpleas­ant. Some com­mu­ni­ties instead use eitherZoon­gadiki­win (“state of hav­ing a strong cas­ing”) or Zoongide’ewin (“state of hav­ing a strong heart”).
  • Gwayak­waadizi­win—Hon­esty: Hon­esty in fac­ing a sit­u­a­tion is to be brave. Always be hon­est in word and action. Be hon­est first with your­self, and you will more eas­ily be able to be hon­est with oth­ers. In the Anishi­naabe lan­guage, this word can also mean “righteousness.”
  • Dabaaden­dizi­win—Humil­ity: Humil­ity is to know your­self as a sacred part of Cre­ation. In the Anishi­naabe lan­guage, this word can also mean “com­pas­sion.” You are equal to oth­ers, but you are not bet­ter. Some com­mu­ni­ties instead express this withBekaadizi­win, which in addi­tion to “humil­ity” can also be trans­lated as “calm­ness,” “meek­ness,” “gen­til­ity” or “patience.”
  • Deb­wewin—Truth: Truth is to know all of these things. Speak the truth. Do not deceive your­self or others.
Corpse of The Golden Spruce

Corpse of The Golden Spruce” — Yak­oun River, Port Clements, Haida Gwaii. The last of it’s species.

Lucky Stu­dio #7 for 7 weeks…on 7 paint­ings with the 7 Grand­fa­ther Teach­ings? Four groups of 7?…I think it’s a sign.
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