Today I have decided to rule in a personal conflict.
As you all know, for years I have been immersing myself in various cultures and communities that are outside my own. One of which is the First Nations communities here in Canada. For years, I have been using my art to teach and inspire a change of ignorance in the non-community members, to get to know the First Nation cultures more intimately.
Over the years, I have extended as much knowledge as I have, resources and information to those willing to learn. On this account, I will not stop, as I feel that it is my duty and privilege to continue to inspire non-community members to learn and immerse themselves in community culture. In this, my commitment remains full.
What I have decided, however, is that the enormous and often appalling behavior and that most exercise in way of the art, and other cultural concepts, is an indication to a bigger mass that doesn't care about any of the smaller ingredients that go into making up the recipe of the presentation, execution, and preservation of the culture. It is clear to me when an individual e-mails me asking for "Totemic art" that they have neither valued myself as the artist, or the culture for it's teachings.
When someone blatantly uses a term that is not applicable, and downright wrong [and misplaced], or a concept that is not even reflected in the culture, to hire me to create a work of art in light of the cultural style, I can only determine two things;
1) They didn't care about myself, as the artist, enough to read through my descriptions and teachings to acquire the information I have BLATNETLY repeated OVER and OVER.
2) Don't care about the culture enough to educate themselves on how NOT to OFFEND the peoples and their concepts.
While enjoying art for the sake of art is totally acceptable, and understandable, I just find I cannot go on any longer helping to perpetuate the ignorance which I was so hoping to help dissipate through my art. It is because of this I have decided to cease accepting commission for the NWP [North West Pacific] style of art.
I cannot go on listening to people self validate why they entitle themselves of cultural appropriated images, simply under the guises of living within a region, or feeling a "spiritual connection" to it.
I can no longer accept that non-community members want to tell First Nations that they are "honoring them" by taking something that doesn't belong to them, and using it for their benefit [as if honestly they are honoring First Nations by walking around with a Bear Tattoo? Really?].
I can no longer accept people taking the images produced, and selling it in their tattoo parlors millions of miles away overseas, because they know they can make a buck of "Tribal Savage tattoos".
I refuse to help people take the cultural style and warp it to accommodate bad designs, bad concepts, and self validation in the name of someone else's culture.
I have reached a breaking point.
I will be producing NWP art when contracted to, or when approached by community members, or when I obtain the permissions I need to in order to do so. So don't worry, those will not be disappearing. What WILL come to an end is me taking commission on the style by private individuals.
I have thought about this long and hard, realizing that as far as "publicity" goes, this falls under "bad" or "suicide". This is an ethical debate that I have had with members within and without the community, hearing all sides and point of views, and just not willing to hear more. The way this makes me FEEL is gross. It make same feel as a hypocrite to walk into a Teaching Circle, with an Elder who trusts me to convey cultural teachings, knowing that in my personal time I am trying to accommodate concepts that are sometimes directly opposing cultural rule, and perpetuating taboo. I cringe when I receive and e-mail wanting a commission for the style now... unlike when I started with the hopes of some kind of educational grain at the core. Unfortunately, when I found the lack of car, and the simple dismissive attitude even AFTER I corrected individuals [e-mail one, correct erroneous use of the term "totem"... e-mail two, still using the term "totem"... e-mail three, still using "totem" and now ignored explanation that it's not called "Haida style"] totally off putting, and a general indication to how people feel.
And when I mean general, I mean about 75% of all e-mails... not two or three. It's just too much for me to handle.
I thank everyone who has supported me through this decision, and apologies to those who wanted one of the commissions, and did not have the opportunity hire me to do so.
I deeply deeply appreciate all the good words you have given me about my work! I thank each and every one of you for them, and cannot be humbled enough- however due to my limited availability, I might not be able to respond to all the comment left for me. Due to my other jobs and obligations, I have limited time to access my on-line galleries.
If I don't comment back on your comment, please do not take it personally- I am simply pressed for time and cannot respond to every comment received.
I still thank everyone for their awesome words and thoughts! You guys mean a lot to me, and certainly lift my spirits and inspire me to go on!
Commission are CLOSED!
Thanks to all those who contacted me!
If you have paid for a commissions, or are in dialogue about quotes and/or payment, you are stll on the list for your commission.
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