Just as the key to understanding Picasso’s abstraction of Mari-Thérèse is to, “realize that abstractions may not represent whole things but one or another of their less obvious properties” (Root-Bernstein 2001) I took on the concept of justice – and identified one of its less obvious properties. To me cultural preservation is a less obvious property of justice. I looked at abstracting justice in multiple ways. For my two pieces of abstract art I took on two ways of looking at the arguable center of Anishinaabe culture – the hand drum. Both of my pieces have a way of incorporating water justice into them as well. For the Anishibnaabe (the people of the Great Lakes) water is very central to our culture. Many Indigenous people are creating a movement around water preservation and cultural preservation.
The first abstract art piece utilized photography as a medium that is further edited to create movement and light. The photograph I took is from a march that I participated in at Houston Texas with the local tribes. The march was in solidarity with the larger Indigenous community on the Sacred Stone/ Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota that is fighting the Dakota Access Pipe-Line (DAPL).
I was taught about the hand drum’s significance as the first thing that we hear in our mothers womb is our mother’s heart beat. It is the rhythm of many indigenous songs and prayers reflecting the heart beat. It is also a beat that connects us to our mother’s earth. The world moves with a similar beat to our hearts. Hand drums are crucial to cultural preservation because most tribes accross North American utilize a hand drum (or similar instrument) to pass on songs and used in ceremony. In that way we remember values, language and practices. The picture is of someone that was in the front of the March wearing traditional regalia. He is also holding a hand drum and is smudging with sage in a conch shell. Even though this tribe is geographically far from Michigan – these elements of ceremony are essentially the same. Each from is a close up of these practices. It is movement as a cultural movement. It is movement as a justice movement and movement as in motion. The march for in solidarity with DAPL is also to protect the waters.
I very interested in trying to incorporate photography into the abstraction theme- the photo was meant to look like water (or reflect water in some way) and also to reflect the idea of intense movement – in relation to social justice movement. The song I choose to sing (which was something I initially was terrified to do - but exploration ultimately won out) is commonly referred to as the water song. I was taught this when I was young and women sing it, as they are the water keepers. This particular song along with the hand drum is meant to mimic the sounds of water – from the babbling brook to a raging waterfall (I didn’t exactly get to that range – but I have heard it done).