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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Resilient Colours

Resilient Colours

2011 - Art Winner

Janelle Beaven

Calgary, AB
Age 17

Author's Statement

To understand the meaning of the picture I would first like to explain how it was created. It is a photo created by light photography. Sketches of the horse and girl were traced onto cardboard and cut out, they were then held upright by other pieces of cardboard backing. I then set the ISO on my camera down to 100 and my shutter speed down to thirty seconds. In a pitch-black room I would shine a light of a specific color behind the cardboard I wanted outlined. As for the letters each one was done as its own picture, I took a flashlight and drew the shapes in the air, with the slow shutter-speed the camera froze where the light had been into the picture. Each letter picture was then selected, scaled and pasted onto my other picture of the cardboard figures. I wanted to make this photo from scratch instead of photo-shopping various elements. I wanted it to be an authentic piece of photography. Light photography has the ability to bring the dark to life an d is limited only by ones creativity.

The themes and messages that I want to convey through this artwork are those of what a person holds inside and how that light shines forth. Throughout history our ancestors' spirits have burned brightly when surrounded by massive adversity. Even today in a world where one could reinvent themselves as they see fit, the resilient aboriginal spirit often shines though.

According to my research, different colors had different meanings in traditional native cultures, so I used them to enhance my photo. The black surrounding the glow meant night, underworld, male, cold, disease, and death. The blue which I used for the girl meant sky, water, female, clouds, moon, and sadness, the red of her feathered headdress symbolized wounds, sunset, blood, war, and day. The green that I used for the horse was defined as connection to earth and all it’s life. The yellow white of the words stood for sunshine, day, hope and dawn. Lastly in homage to my Metis culture the glowing purple area highlighting the connection between girl and horse symbolized royalty and spirituality in European culture, though this I wanted to convey the connection between east and west that is Métis.

I hope that with this information the viewer can interpret and discover the many stories this photo has to tell.