Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Indigenous, Illustration, Figure
Ahsén:nase is a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) artist/author with roots in the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory. Working with oils on canvas (although he has dabbled in stone and wood carving, clay, photography, water color, acrylic and print-making), he now illustrates children’s story books and creates unique fine art inspired by his First Nations culture.
This culture he states, “is an abundant source of creative expression” that helps him to entwine traditional values with contemporary subject matter. Working with bold colors, a crisp design and a unique sense of humour, he creates what he calls “a culmination of pebbles picked up along the path”.
I have been a creator of art, either in paint, stone, photography or wood, for more than 40 years, and during that time a common question is usually asked of me... “What does this mean?”
While my personal experiences and feelings are responsible for the creation of this art, I think it is more important to ask yourself... “What does this mean to you?”
In the end I believe, that's all that matters. A piece of art will mean different things to different people and one needs to find that feeling of “connected-ness” in order to appreciate it.
About my paintings...
My style has changed over the years to reflect my tastes and interests. And like those before me, other artists have influenced the way I view the world, my selection of color and the execution of a brush stroke. For example, I once painted ultra-realistic images based on nature; I then switched to a style that could at best could be considered impressionistic.
Over the years I have learned that as we travel along the path of this life, experiencing both the good and the bad, we pick up pebbles along the way that speak to us. My artistic journey from realism to impressionism allowed me to pick up the pebbles of accidental brush strokes and a wonder at the magic of a single dab of white paint.
To my mind art is the interpretation of a three dimensional world on a two dimensional surface, it is an abstraction of reality that has been heavily influenced by the artist’s mind, spirit and experiences along that path. It’s the pebbles that make their way to the surface.
My current tastes move me to paint with bold colors, careful design and in some cases, a touch of humor. My subject matter is influenced by my Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) culture and is in most cases a feeling or a thought that I wish to express.
For example “Mnidoonsag” (Ojibwa for insects meaning “Little Spirits”) resulted from my wonder at the magic of fireflies. Even at my age I am awestruck by these little beings whenever I am fortunate enough to see them. I consider it a gift and feel blessed to be able to feel this wonder.
Other topics such as those depicted by “Holding Back the Madness” and “Iktomi in his Red Bathrobe” came from a more serious topic. In this case, the results of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) findings on the atrocities committed to our children by the government of Canada with its enforcement of residential schools.
Generally speaking, most of my paintings will depict the strength, beauty, spirit and humor found within my culture and the culture of other First Nations people on Turtle Island. Currently my paintings have themes that depict Native Spirituality. This in itself, is a form of "de-colonization" as the practice of our own spirituality was outlawed for a long time and almost extinguished through residential schools both in Canada and the USA.
After reading this and viewing a sampling of my work I hope that your tastes run parallel to mine. Perhaps we share some common pebbles.