Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Afternoon Tea"


Medium(s): Micron Pen .005

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"Afternoon Tea" was definitely a test of patience with such a small-tipped micron pen. The crows themselves took me about a half hour each, maybe more on the flying one. I'm sure I could have used something similar with a bigger tip like a sharpie or pen&ink, but I love the black that comes out of these pens when given the time to make something black in its entirety.
The piece is pretty complex, as my works usually are subject/meaning wise.

After drawing Mr. Umbrellaman there, I got the idea that I wanted to make Natives doing a "routine" activity that just screams Western culture. I couldn't really think or find anything better than afternoon "tea time". Afternoon tea is a light meal typically eaten between 3pm and 5pm. The custom of drinking tea originated in England when Catherine of Braganca married Charles II in 1661 and brought the practice of drinking tea in the afternoon with her from Portugal. It became prominent in the 18th century of aristocratic culture and those seeking the same for themselves.
Since thats explained as predominately Western custom, I attempted to bring that aspect into modernization, assimilation, and colonization, my usual topics. Dressing nice and drinking tea (aka following Western customs and trying our best to be Americans/Canadians) will never cloud over the fact of what we are, and definitely as what others see us as. In these acts of colonization, the decomposition and decay of traditional ceremony, culture, and beliefs die out if not become infected by radiation (modernism/mainstream society). Socio-radiation I like to personally call it.
To further show direct decomposition of traditionalism, crows come to the top of the umbrella where they one by one take the cottonwood branches; the couple and their dog seemingly surrounded by crows as if they themselves are near death.
The umbrella itself represents ceremony, particularly akoka'tssini, Sun Dance. The prayer ties represent our sufferings and indulgent hopes of things changing, when clearly we further aide in the decay of our hopes, dreams, and traditional ways.
The sign falling apart implies to the viewer the setting is a Native reserve. This also represents what we have done to ourselves, our land, and our environment for attempts to stimulate tribal economies and simply cash, again dependency on the government. If we are dependent on a mass-global warming contributor, we cannot be any less to blame if we support and even partake in their efforts to further unbalance and outright destroy. Our own people in the arctic north have already been documented and interviewed about how much their culture and traditional lifestyles have changed due to melting ice alone.
Smaller aspects are my notorious beer bottles covered in traditional-evil colors and hailstone symbols to represent evil beings. The Lakota best describe this as "Iktomi has you"..the trickster spider. Iktomi is in every bottle, and within every bottle is sorrow, despair, and violent acts waiting to happen. The effects of alcoholism on reservations is a ultimately worse contributor to many issues of sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence.
The dog, of course, represents loyalty, represents children and future generations. The world we teach and show our children is the world we ensure they will know well and live in, and unfortunately most of the time pass down to the next. Children, like dogs, blindly and loyally follow those they love and look up to, regardless of a good or bad role model. Dragging the travois represents the burdens we have that we subconsciously force upon them to experience.
Any native will tell you, children are our future, they always have and will be. What kind of world are we bringing them up in and teaching them to treat it as? The livelihood of our orally-surviving culture depends on people now preserving it and passing it on. Are you decolonized enough to rightfully say you are your nation, or are you the man and woman here? Living lies, living someone else's culture.
Absorption rather than adaptation. It plagues our native world, and our whole world.

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