Charmaine Minniefield

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Artist Statement

Most indigenous traditions around the world hold sacred the veneration and respect of their ancestors.  This practice remains evident throughout history whether consciously performed or not.  Symbols of cultural value systems decorate walls; grace the faces of currency, educating the children of societies past and present.  Symbols are often branded with the names or images of someone’s ancestors, those that societies hold dear and whose legacy continues to inspire.  Today streets are named after war generals, past presidents and leaders.  Mountains are hewn with images of those once empowered. These sacred symbols, however mundane or profound, remember with respect those who have gone before. It is this social iconography, often displaying images of those passed on, that continues to inform the ethical systems of each community today.

My work invokes the power of the ancestors. By creating visual roadmaps from the past to the present, paved by the history and stories, love and heartache, success and failures of the ancestors, it celebrates and calls to the present the wisdom of those who have come before to inspire a new freedom movement today.  My work reclaims the stories of the ancestors as social iconography of my generation by creating shrine paintings, which present the ancestors as sacred symbols of freedom. I believe that by reclaiming the stories of our ancestors and by praising and committing to their memory, we will better understand our collective potential and ourselves as a society.