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PRAYER FOR THE PROTECTORS
20 x 24, Oil on hand stretched canvas by Nancy Griswold
With current issues faced today by those at Standing Rock and the slaughtering of bison and other animals my heart continues to weep for all of us and the children who will inherit this earth. This is for those who stand strong in defiance of the threat to our natural resources: (Our Native Americans, those who support the climate change issues, environmentalists, scientists and those who support the causes). I started this work long ago but happened to finish it during the recent surge of media and crisis.
A friend posed for the figure and I gathered research for the symbolism I wanted to include. The Lakota historical photographs showed fully decorated hide skinned teepees from top to bottom, thus the hide painter. Often the Native Americans painted pictograph symbols and animals which told stories and history of events on hides.
This is a dream painting and created in my studio from imagination and resources to honor those affected by these tragedies. As with some of my other Native American oil paintings, I choose to paint limited palette, this one with reds, violets, oranges and the warm side of the color wheel to express the global warming of our plant. I wanted there to be a strong contrast between the lights and darks enhancing a drama to the concerns so I have lit the scene with imaginary fire light and moon light and well as a fire that burns inside the teepee.
I used symbolism in this art; here is a list of some of the symbols below:
The Aquarius Constellation:
This is the brighter starts shown above the stretched hide on the left.
Aquarius, the eleventh astrological sign of the zodiac is the symbol of Water-Bearer
Buffalo is the symbol of sacred life and abundance.
The skulls represent the threat to their own existence and also a threat to the existence of conscience of sacred and spiritual life itself.
Buffalo in background:
Symbolism: The ancestors and animals in the sprit world.
A dream and prayer to those who exist in spiritual forces and our ancestors.
The Horse: (pictograph)
The horse represents the Swiftness, (needed in action to protect our resources).
The Fish (find in the sky in two places and on the hide)
A symbol of food and sustenance we depend on that needs clean water
Fires and fire on the mountain top:
Upper right and left: Symbolism: Fire may be used for purification.
Cedar and sage are used to clear space, to purify and to repel spirits that are not welcome. In use for purification, fire consumes the essence of the items that need to be disposed of in a ritual way.
Cliff dwellings and teepees together in one picture area:
Representing tribes and people uniting together who oppose the destruction of our water and natural resources.
Symbolism: the heartbeat of Mother Earth.
The drum is broadly considered to be the first musical instrument used by humans. It is believed to have the power to change natural elements, including the weather, to heal sickness, and some believe it has the power to send messages both to the animal world and to the spirit world.
Basket and pottery:
Both made from natural resources of clay and reeds, non polluting natural materials were used for utilitarian objects. The native Americans an our early ancestors did not use plastic or unnatural man made materials; they created and invented items for use using only the resources available to them for the earth and did not leaving enormous amount of trash and waste that we leave behind in our societies today.
Symbolism: Art in the Native American culture.
The use of art has been used as a form of expression in the Native American way of life for hundreds, even thousands of years. Most art was created as a symbol, such as a bear, walrus, eagle, or people. The materials to make this artwork varied from rocks, feathers, cloth, clay, and fabric
Symbolism: the shadow side of humanity
The moon creates shadows in darkness.
Darkness of night here is representing the darkness of our times.
Symbolism: the Ancestors.
Natives used the stars to tell time, navigate the rivers and seas and predict the future. Historians have inferred that the natives thought of stars as the spirits of their ancestors and they honored each with a name and symbol. Some sources mention that Native Americans used stars' positions to indicate specific seasons or events of the year such as harvest time, planting time, buffalo hunt time and so on. Their interpretation and use of the star positions and constellation vary significantly from the astrology of the modern world.
Squiggles found on the bottom left off the hide in thinking of the present day water protectors and those at Standing Rock.
Zuni Bear Symbol: (found on the hide)
Guardian of the West and has the power to heal and to transform passions into true wisdom.