Three elements: women, earth, and light (sun) are connected to each other and have an important presence in my work.
From your breast
You fed me.
With your arms
You held me.
To you, my love.
From your bosom
I draw nourishment
In your mantle
I seek shelter
To you, reverence.
The sun has his own path
Gives and withdraws his light
from the works of BASIL H. JOHNSON,
Anishinaabe story-teller and author
After a number of years of drawing and painting, I came up with an idea to create a new art form. I wanted to create sculpted figures of silk mounted on a painted background. I named this work Tableaus.
The idea originated in 1997, when I received some hand-made silk fabrics and books on the Nomads of Iran. The words and the pictures in these books presented people of great strength and honour. Despite their harsh environments and living with only the basic necessities, the men and women of these tribes have stayed true to their beliefs, their values, and their way of life for hundreds of years.
I was particularly interested in the dynamic lifestyles of the women in these tribes. I wanted to present these women and their roles and relationships in their dynamic and colourful environment. My idea was to create these women using the hand-made silk fabrics that they themselves had created. This was the beginning of Tableaus.
In 1998, I traveled to London, England to display my work. There was a great level of interest in the Tableaus because of their novelty and originality. This inspired me to put more focus into creating these Tableaus. Since then I have continued to create Tableaus of women from different cultures and backgrounds. All the women in Tableaus have one thing in common, and that is their search for enlightenment. Each piece is a symbol of every woman who believes in herself and in the roles that she plays in her life as a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a friend.
It is very exciting for me to create these pieces and to experience how my art can communicate and connect with people of so many different cultures and nations. It is truly inspirational!