Written By: Brenna Bartley Education Coordinator – Crawford Lake and Mountsberg Conservation Areas
Crawford Lake Conservation Area is pleased to present a new exhibit featuring the artwork and writings of Tuscaroran artist Raymond R. Skye. The exhibit, titled Haudenosaunee Clans…Extended Families of the Iroquois opens May 5th until June 30th, 2015, and will be on display daily from 10am until 4pm, in the newly built Deer Clan Longhouse.
The exhibit features art works representing the nine main clans of the Haudenosaunee, as well as the film The Great Law Kayaneren’ko:wa. The Great Law Kayaneren’ko:wa presents poetic Mohawk and English verse, as presented by Six Nations of the Grand River community member Frank Miller and Metis author David Bouchard, alongside a collection of Mr. Skye’s pieces. Visitors to the exhibit will enjoy a rich experience combining art, film, and hands-on elements celebrating the significant heritage and clans of the Haudenosaunee people.
Crawford Lake is grateful to Mr. Skye for his partnership and friendship. Please join us this spring for this stunning new exhibit!
by Raymond R. Skye
As a member of the Tuscarora Nation of the Six Nations Grand River community, Ontario, Canada, I have had the privilege of learning and experiencing my culture firsthand. Many of those teachings came from my parents, who were strong adherents of our traditions. When I was a young boy my flair for art seemed to be more obvious to my parents than it was to me. As I grew older and my talent evolved I remember my mother saying to me, “Your artistic ability seems to come very easily to you. Talent like that is a special gift from the Creator. You might want to consider using it someday.” Later on in my life that is exactly what I did, and still continue to do.
There is a saying I have heard many times that goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If that is true, then I believe it may apply to a lot of the works I have created over the years. In certain cases imagery within a piece of art can translate into volumes of information. Such is the case for one particular triptych I created titled “The Great Peace…The Gathering of Good Minds.” Multiple imagery within that artwork presents many aspects of my culture, which can make for some extensive interpretation. Most of the works I have produced since then follow the same pattern. During the creative process of my art, the traditional teachings my parents passed down to me offer a wealth of resources. I strongly believe that helps me to portray my culture with the authenticity and dignity it deserves.
Within the last decade or so I have been fortunate to be involved in a number of educational projects. Many of which were relevant to First Nations history, primarily the Iroquois, or as they are more properly termed—Haudenosaunee (people of the extended lodge or house). I found this area of work to be quite refreshing for it allowed me to use my skills in other forms. I realize how important visuals are to the learning process for they bring stories to life. Imagery helps the reader to better comprehend the story, and memory retention is enhanced. This is most advantageous in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools because images are essential to the learning process. Projects of this nature have allowed me to work within my community, to help add to our cultural resources, and be part of a concerted effort in maintaining Haudenosaunee culture. These types of learning tools benefit today’s curriculum requirements in First Nations and mainstream schools alike.
As an artist my work has awarded me the opportunity to share my culture with the rest of the world. It is quite fulfilling to produce a piece of artwork that not only pleases the eye, but stimulates the mind as well. If I have achieved that just once in my life, then this journey I am on has been worthwhile. It is the most appropriate way I know of showing my appreciation for the gift I was given.
Raymond R. Skye
Six Nations of the Grand River Territory