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 50 Years/50 Artworks      

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Roy Thomas
(Canadian, Ahnisnawbe, b.1949)
Painting Tomorrow’s Dream
1997
acrylic on canvas, 48" x 36"
Gift of Sivertson Gallery, Duluth

Roy Thomas sees his paintings as a way to honor and pass on the spiritual narratives of his First Nations Canadian ancestors. Painting Tomorrow’s Dream is an outstanding example of the Woodlands style, which was developed in the 1960s by Norval Morrisseau as a synthesis of traditional birch bark scroll drawings, decorative beadwork patterns, and modern art styles. Woodlands painting is characterized by images of nature, animals and humans depicted in bold colors within outlined shapes, representing the stories and mythological characters which have long been a part of the spiritual world-view of Native Canadians.
Thomas writes detailed interpretations of his paintings, further reinforcing their roots in his culture’s oral tradition.

About Painting Tomorrow’s Dream, he writes:“The artist with the white line from his eyes is seeing the vision of the future. This artist is from a bird totem, half human, half bird. The bird on the wing is its spirit totem. The person’s hair is white, meaning that it is an elder. The artist is holding a paintbrush high with respect, and believing in its dream. The white line portrays believing and having a clear vision of a dream. The artist’s dream is that the people of Turtle Island will be able to follow the ways of their own kind.
The red line connecting is the spirit of life. The spirit of life portrays the idea that we are all connected by the force of life. Today the artist uses the symbols of these life givers in this manner. The artist uses the sun as fire, the bird as the air, the animal as the land, and the fish as water.
The three birds, animals and fish represent three generations. If we look back at our own people we will find our identity. We will also find that our great, great, great grandparents had dreams, and accomplished them. The dream is what you are supposed to be, not what someone else wants you to be.”
– Roy Thomas

 
 
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