(Canadian, Ahnisnawbe, b.1949)
Painting Tomorrow’s Dream
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