The Skin, The Bones, The Colour, The Spirit, The Substance and The Soul of A Red Canoe
There is something so sensual, human and humanistic about a red canoe. The design cannot be improved upon – it fits it’s designed function perfectly.
In mid-2011, I retired from painting them to honour the passing of William Commanda who encouraged me to paint them with soul and love, and to rest my painting arm and shoulder, as they take a very repetitive motion to complete. They now call me to return and I understand them more, having taken a time to rest and reflect on my obsession.
“How a canoe is traditionally constructed reflects the human form so perfectly.”
There is a boney structure to it – a rigid yet flexible structure that underpins the function and provides form. The skin – a canvas in many cases for the older canoes or actual skins of trees or animals with earlier indigenous canoes, the vessel itself becomes this representative metaphor of a humanistic art form for me. That the soul of it carries us through calm waters and turbid rapids and the colour red marks it as an object that is important and to be noted….that the spirit of all that we are can be contained literally and figuratively in this vessel….has me obsessed, infatuated and in love with it. The wood moves, breathes and has a life to it. It must be cared for in order to continue serving. It, in turn – serves.
The canoes I create honour my ties to both of my communities – indigenous and to my own personal heritage as I grew up canoeing the lakes of Algonquin Park and Lake Kashagawigamog.
This is one thing….that makes me human, and a student and servant of humanity.