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Nokomis - the Ojibwa Painter

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Nokomis was born in the bush two hundred miles north of Lake Superior more than seventy years ago. Her father was a trapper and so was her mother until it was time for Nokomis to start school.

When she was six the family moved close to a tiny railway hamlet where there was a one room school for the children of railway employees. When she started her studies Nokomis was the only Ojibwa child in the classroom.

By the time she was ready for ninth grade the family had left the bush entirely just to get close to a proper school system. Since then she's lived a mainstream lifestyle, but paints memories of her earliest years in the bush.

Nokomis says that she began her so-called 'artistic career' by first learning the traditional crafts - smoking hides to make moccasins, jackets, mukluks and small beaded jewelry items. It wasn't until much later in life that she began painting memories of what it was like to grow up hunting, fishing and trapping...capturing what it was like to live an independent life without a safety net of any kind.

Her stories are written on the back of her note cards and prints.

This is a link to a picture of her favourite story. You can read more on her website, Native-Art-in-Canada .

Nokomis...the twenty first century artisan

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Look closely at those designs...every intricate ornamenation is made from clay. Nothing is painted. Not even the details in the faces on the brooches or keychains. They are made from hundreds of tiny bits of coloured "clay".

About ten years ago Nokomis began teaching herself to make mille fiore canes in the manner of the Venetian bead makers in the 15th and 16th centuries. She didn't use hot glass like they did, she worked with polymer clays.

They aren't the clays that are dug out of the ground. Rather, they are man-made polymers that look much like plasticene. They are manufactured in standard primary colours,,,red, blue, yellow, etc...then mixed together in various combinations to get a particular shade or hue.

This is not your usual native art! This product line is strictly contemporary.

Sometimes the themes are native...like talking sticks, for example...but more often than not she makes beaded necklaces, quaint little "lady pins" or keychains.

 

 

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