My art consists of a Cherokee word or phrase illustrated by an image. Sometimes it's a simple word. Sometimes it's a phrase. The subject matter varies greatly. Most of the images aren't what you would normally associate with a Native American series. This is intentional.
In 2005, I began taking Cherokee Language classes for personal enrichment. I wanted to learn more about my Cherokee ancestry. I thought it would be fun, unaware of how it would drastically alter my artistic path. In my first lesson, it became clear to me that I would somehow use this language in my art. It has now infused itself into every part of my art and my life. I think it, live it, dream it and breathe it.
As I attempted to learn the Cherokee language, I had difficulty memorizing the new words and had an especially hard time memorizing the unique syllabary alphabet. I eventually found that when I painted the title of my paintings, I could remember the words. If it helped me, perhaps it would help others to learn the language.
The paintings usually start with the word or title that sparks the image or idea in my head. Next, I photograph, sketch and research the subject. Then I work backwards from there. Using acrylics, I paint the subject onto the canvas, painting the title last.
Each painting has an information card attached to the back, with the title of the painting in English and Cherokee, the pronunciation and translation, along with other significant information. When sold, that information goes with the painting, so that the language and stories are passed on to future generations.
I am an enrolled member of the Four Winds Louisiana Cherokee Tribe.