Seeker of Visions


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This is my central portrait of Native American thinker Lame Deer (1901/3 -1976) and a representation of the key symbols he mentions in ‘Seeker of Visions’, the book of his thinking as told to his friend Richard Erdoes. A key symbol is the Native American circle image versus the US square image (think of buildings, boxes, gadgets, our ‘boxed in’ lives, ruled by time etc) So, my painting had to be on a circular canvas! Other symbols in the painting are: Bottom: the buffalo, which are painted very thinly. I was pleased with the ‘cave painting’ effect. The buffalo is a symbol of a way of life and a natural landscape, now lost. Top left: circles of tipis. Circles within circles here. The tipi literally means shelter and it is a circle itself, a gathering. On the horizon: the ‘mesa’ and ‘butte’ geological formations of the Badlands landscape of South Dakota. The Badlands were a Sioux hunting ground, for buffalo and other animals In the sky: the bald headed eagle. A symbol of many natural things in the Native American world. A symbol of money and power on the US dollar and seal. On the right : a symbolic story…. In 1876, the Lakota lead by Crazy Horse won a rare victory over the US at the Battle of Little Big Horn when Custer’s 7th Cavalry were defeated. The next day, the Indians saw what they described as ‘green frog skins’ drifting up from the uniform pockets of some of the dead US soldier on the battlefield. The Indian children folded these ‘green frog skins’ into little toy horses. The ‘green frog skins’ were the dollar bills by which the US paid the wages of the soldiers.