Thursday, April 7, 2011

I k t o m i


Medium(s): Micron Pen .005, Sharpie

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Iktomi, in Lakota-Sioux spirituality, is a spiritual deity held in the oral history and storytelling aspect of the Indigenous culture.
He, who takes the form of a spider, is more often then not portrayed as a negative trickster spirit against the people, believed to entangle webs in the lives of people and create a domino effect of unfortunate coincidences, depression, anger, and self-pity. His ability to control people unknowingly like puppet strings to create unfortunate events in the lives of individuals, believed to be preyed on the weak spirited and weak minded.

In everyday communication, it is often said to "have an iktomi on your back" relates to said sudden chain of negative coincidences over a short or long period of time. Often this expression is used towards people who are suffering depression, heavily into alcoholism, or doing things to hurt other people.


Aside from the quick background of who Iktomi is, I often see him portrayed as said being, shifting between human or specimen. Though I enjoy a more surreal interpretation that shows the predatation aspect of spiders often involving coiling, constriction, and injection. ironically as often as we find spiders in the bathroom, the bathtub to me represented vulnerability as well as most associated with a time when we are usually alone and by ourselves.
The smaller side on the left depicts a house fly being attacked, which scales the humans down to the same level of prey.
The only faces of the piece are arachnids, where the human ones are shrouded in the constricting organic-like vines, and the other's skull remains at the bottom of his feet, replaced by old, rotten. and broken picture frames..which represents my drastic change in identity-shifting.

With currently an "iktomi on my back" for at least 4 months now, I basically drew what it feels like, which is rather new for me personally as an artist. My works have usually been socio-political at the very least. Though "Afternoon Tea" was as such, the atmosphere and "milieu" of the piece was much more darker and serious than I had done before, and it extremely appealed to me...which I believe will result in more of these surreal ink works from now on.

The official end of my "Indigasphyxia" thesis (the impact of colonization and technology on indigenous culture), and a shift towards a "Milieu" focus (personal experiences in my environment, and being a prey of Iktomi since December)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Beneath The Millpond

Steven Black Weasel

English 283 (1:00-1:50)

Free Verse

February 14th, 2011

As a voice beneath the millpond sings,

From his past the lost August days are woken.

Through years, where the darkness roars,

Until with whirlpool panic heart he looks,

Out of the looking glass,

And sights the cluster of ghastly ghosts,

Huddled together in familiarity of an asylum party.

In a blurred hurried bliss,

The grandfather sonorously sings,

his cherished chime of thirteenth hour.

Then the audible dissipation,

The summer swallows on the eve of cold.

Bounds breached.

Ripples ring,

As a voice beneath the millpond sings.

Scratched ankles and nail-bitten hands,

Grasped and groped the Johnson locks,

Raven follicles turn to desolate deserts of

White scalp

Lying, pure and pale, bloodless…

As a young stillborn boar, motionless…

Though, cold tears tumble, hopeless.

Through a shared distance of gaps and gullies,

The looking glass reveals the misfortunate,

Proving, that the dead can dance.

Rhythmic rhymes chime the air of barbaric tones,

Until smiles rise the sun of dawn.

Standards shown.

Plucked wings,

As a voice beneath the millpond sings.

Shuffling pond pebbles as he circles jagged rocks,

Caught between linear lines of ideals and illusions.

Appearing apparition to distant spies whilst walking,

Like delicate muscles,

Sleep-walking through shapes that razors blind.

But noise does not abate the essence of ears,

As young geese yawp and squeal above the moors.

Though escaping ebony is filled absence of color,

Flight feathers all but are due to return,

Like cut canvas,

Eager to expel the quintessence that artists fume.

He casts the final skipping stone into the bog of buttresses

Bounds breached.

Ripples ring,

As a voice beneath the millpond sings.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Friday, December 17, 2010

Photography Studies

1800-1830's Cemetery, Northbridge, Massachusetts

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.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Untitled Micron Pen WIP III

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I'm rummaging now with names and ideas as this kinda self-forms itself into this, apocalyptic, culture genocide, prim-and-proper tea party.
The top of the umbrella was bothering me, that it needed some sort of movement and actions in an effort to more centralize the umbrella as a symbolic Sun Dance tree. The ravens/crows come, a symbol is death and decomposition, as they one by one take bits and pieces of cottonwood branches, to symbolize the slow death, decay, and loss of ceremonial practices as we bring, still, our colonized ways and views to them.
The dog with the travois might be carrying something related to this "tea party", perhaps a picnic basket. Maybe something more apocalyptic like gasmask tubing/filters. Still up in the air.
I also added some smal things. The row of hanging drying meat was to coverup my mistake that I originally had him planned to be sitting on a park bench. In front of the woman and man's feet are beer bottles covered in traditional-evil symbols and well-known addition to art these days.
Excited now finally where this composition is bringing me, as I'm excited to work more and more on it.

Untitled Micron Pen WIP II

A piece I've started to work on, not much to say about it yet because I'm struggling to decide what I want to do and where for it to go. I'll update constantly.

The balance of the piece was bothering me (look at update prior to this one). I wasn't sure at all what to put, or where to put it, that would balance the piece, yet keep it interesting, unique, but along the same lines as the first subject. What balances a man better than a woman version? I'm enjoying where this composition is going now.