Métis artist Christi Belcourt brings together the ecological and indigenous themes from the last three CARFLEO conferences and our next retreat. She describes herself this way:
I have nothing to say about my art. I will leave that to others. Everything that drives me, and drives my art and the mishmash of everything I do in my life is my love for the earth and my awe of it all. How is it possible we are even alive? The great power and mystery surrounds us every minute of every day. Everything – the plants, insects, winds, stars, rocks, animals, us – is a giant web of pure spirit. Nothing is separate from anything else. The spirit world surrounds us at all moments and is present in all things. If its possible we live in a planet surrounded by stars, then nothing is impossible.
My heart overflows with love for the beauty of this world. The mystery of this planet and this universe is too vast and too powerful to even begin to understand. All I know is that all life, even the rocks, need to be treated with respect.
The sacred laws of this world are of respect and reciprocity. When we stop following them, we as a species are out of balance with the rest of the world.
This wondrous planet, so full of mystery, is a paradise. All I want to do is give everything I have, my energy, my love, my labour – all of it in gratitude for what we are given. I’ll never be able to give back enough. My love for this world overwhelms me. My love for this world, and my love for everyone and everything is what drives me.
Here is her keynote address at the Maamwizing Conference with Laurentian University at Science North, Sudbury, Ontario.
Christi Belcourt celebrates the beauty of nature and points to traditional indigenous ways of understanding our relationation with creationin her art. Consider these works:
In the 1800’s, the Métis began creating large quantities of beaded items to support their families and, because of this, we became known as “the flower beadwork people.” Flower beadwork is one of the artistic legacies left to us by our ancestors. What began in 1993 as a simple attempt to transfer beadwork aesthetics onto canvas with paint has become the artistic journey I’ve been on since. This journey has led me into the depths of understanding my own culture, our worldview, and our spirituality as it relates to the natural world. This painting is called This Painting is a Mirror because it reflects back to the viewer all the beauty that is already within them. We are not separate from anything, we are born connected to the earth, with the capacity to love, to be kind, to be generous, to be gentle. As Odawa Elder Wilfred Peltier taught, “Everything we need to know is already inside of us.”Christi Belcourt
Print purchase details at http://christibelcourt.com/available-work/
Canadian Art: Walking Softly with Christi Belcourt
Alberta Native News Feature artist for April 2020: Christi Belcourt
The Wisdom of the Universe at the Art Gallery of Ontario
In Ontario, over 200 species of plants and animals are listed as threatened, endangered or extinct. Of those, included in this painting are the Dwarf Lake Iris, the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, the Karner Blue butterfly, the West Virginia White butterfly, the Spring Blue-eyed Mary, the Cerulean Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher.
Globally, we live in a time of great upheaval. The state of the world is in crisis. We are witness to the unbearable suffering of species, including humans. Much of this we do to ourselves. It is possible for the planet to return to a state of well-being, but it requires a radical change in our thinking. It requires a willingness to be open to the idea that perhaps human beings have got it all wrong.
All species, the lands, the waters are one beating organism that pulses like a heart. We are all a part of a whole. The animals and plants, lands and waters, are our relatives each with as much right to exist as we have. When we see ourselves as separate from each other and think of other species, the waters and the planet itself as objects that can be owned, dominated or subjugated, we lose connection with our humanity and we create imbalance on the earth. This is what we are witnessing around us.
The planet already contains all the wisdom of the universe, as do you and I. It has the ability to recover built into its DNA and we have the ability to change what we are doing so this can happen.
Perhaps it’s time to place the rights of Mother Earth ahead of the rights to Mother Earth.
– Christi Belcourt