Op-ed: The stories behind the art
- Jeanelle Mandes | May 15, 2018
Firstly, I would like to pay homage to my editor boss, John, for giving me the task in putting this month’s issue together. I had no clue how much time and work it took putting this paper together.
When I was told I was given the opportunity to write the publisher’s note, I had no idea what to base this piece on but it had to be something related to this month’s paper theme. I thought I didn’t know much about arts and entertainment. Then it occurred to me. Writing is on the spectrum of art. According to a quick Google search, “any kind of writing can be an art, but creative thinking is the key.” I had an ‘aha!’ moment.
As I sat in my living room with my laptop obviously on my lap, I felt like Carrie Bradshaw on Sex & the City contemplating my next writing piece – minus the Cosmopolitan. I looked around my living room and noticed the various pieces of art I have hanging on my walls. At that moment, it clicked to me that I was surrounded by art everyday. This painting pictured in this story was painted from my cousin/brother Raymond Mandes Jr. also known as Ogimaw. Over the years, he found his passion in painting and I fell in love with so many pieces he made. The colours were so vibrant and they stood out once you seen them. I wanted my home to feel colourful and vibrant so I bought a few paintings from him – family deal!
Last week, I made a call-out on my Facebook page asking for up-and-coming Indigenous artists living on reserve. Man! The responses were overwhelming. I had eight comments and numerous inboxes from my Facebook friends. It was hard to choose but I picked a few who are featured in this month’s edition. To know that there are so many Indigenous artists on-reserve who many aren’t aware of sent me a wave of pride. Art is very much alive in every community – Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve interviewed and wrote various stories on individuals in relation to arts and entertainment. One story I found absolutely intriguing is about an Indigenous woman from a northern Saskatchewan community who spent over 20-sum years perfecting the craft of birch bark biting art. To know that is an old Indigenous tradition that continues to be practiced to this day is an inspirational thing to hear. It’s something that I’ve always wondered ‘how did they do that’. When life isn’t so hectic, I’d like to take that time to sit, listen and learn about this style of art.
Finding entertainment stories is always easy. There’s so much Indigenous talent out there whether if it’s through listening to MBC radio and hearing Ernest Monias or watching videos being shared on social media of people performing – entertainment is always alive. I would like to say back in my prime, I was my family’s entertainment. My late moshum Edwin ‘Sam’ Mandes used to stomp his feet on the floor which was my cue to start jigging. I may not have been as good as the Sagkeeng’s Finest but in my moshum’s eyes, I was the best! Those were the good ol’ glory days.
As you can see, arts and entertainment is important in every culture. People are always eager to learn about arts and entertainment in other cultures as well as their own. When I see non-Indigenous people at various Indigenous events related to the arts and entertainment, it shows they are curious in understanding more about us. That right there is one of the bridges that connects us all. Every year in Regina, a festival of cultures called Mosaic gives people a chance to experience the variety of cultures we have in this city. Song, dance and artwork displays are seen amongst the various pavilions. It’s an event I love to attend.
Another place that I love going to that showcases Indigenous artwork is Regina’s Royal Saskatchewan museum in the Indigenous gallery. Anyone that knows me know that I’m a huge museum nerd. I love learning about history through art. Walking through that gallery showed me how important art was and still is in our Indigenous culture whether if it’s through beadwork or Indigenous pictographs on rocks, every art piece has a story behind it.
So overall, writing this piece about arts and entertainment wasn’t so bad after all. Putting this issue together was fun and also gave me a deeper insight on how arts and entertainment is in my life every day. Many thanks to those who have shared their stories with me as an artist or an entertainer. Not only have you shared a piece of your life with me but for all our dedicated Eagle Feather News readers to read. Your stories will always linger on through the work you continue to do. Ekosi!