Darla Fisher-Odjig

7th World Aboriginal Image Maker  

Darla

Vision: the belief that symbology will be a huge part of the art and that all may project a uniqueness of their Indianness through this. We promote the essence of our culture through education with our ceremonies and visions through symbols.

The sharing through symbology/pictorial imaging precipitates a phenomenon of altruism and healing. Guidance through mind, heart, body and spirit is essential to envisioning a holistic sense of self. In reference to Creative Extraction, expression toward the enhancing of emotion and identification of authentic values and feelings enable release and validation. Building of inner strength and outer relationships are important to communicating who we are. Reflecting on shadow imaging and of internal elements will allow for visioning and creative connectedness.

Our community includes the participating of connecting with the public through the art and its symbolic representation regarding the intergenerational affect as illustrated by symbolic historical referencing and recording.

The developing of inner creativity through outer expression allows a sense of identity and connecting of two worlds within. Integrating Aboriginal artistic mastery with Western/European mastery as recognized fine artistry brings a unified and elegant fusion of a unique vision of true Canadian Fine Art.


The Interview 

Is there a message in My Healing Journey: A Walk in Two Worlds you want to get across? 

DFO: My Healing Journey is a book that will allow a walk in my moccasins. It may help in moving issues buried deep in the unconscious toward a conscious sense of attainability providing the reader is open to looking within oneself. By this I mean through words and imaging (symbols) come reflections of ourselves and a sense of mirroring within that may project our true selves. We live in a society filled with masks and it is these very symbols of inbred character maps that persist in sidestepping our initial goals and dreams. “Instinctual response has been flanked with unhealthy reactive behaviour giving a sense of turmoil and abrasive behaviour not natural in essence of our true emotional response.” 

As cultural genocide persists, instinctual responses have now embraced mere survival as a means of existing. Survival tactics have emerged as coping mechanisms, survival mechanisms that are true to the horrendous idiosyncrasies of intergenerational affects. The paranoia, numbing and masking of emotional response has no doubt hardened and distanced the true self, existing in duality with the now false self. This has caused a splittingaffect, presenting a destructive coping mechanism. 

Harry Stack Sullivan (1990) states: 

[The] vertical split addresses the vital area of character defenses and restitutional object relationships that are formed by the child in reaction to earlier emotional trauma. Winnicott emphasized the degree to which False Selfpatterns of relating reflect the need to protect the True Selffrom reinjury as well as the need to contain profound feelings of melancholia associated with disappointments in the original objects. 

Would you say poetry helps to heal the soul? 

DFO: It may help although it is up to the individual as to how far one wants to go into that mirror of reflective battle, a challenge to war within oneself and a courageous journey that could take many years of believing in the self and never giving in to that little saboteur. As someone said to me one day, never go into your head alone; always have someone there just in case you never come out. 

I often hear that poetry is like therapy in that it helps to relieve pain, hurt, depression and fear. What’s your take on this? 

DFO: Absolutely, yes, although within the spectrum of allowability within oneself as we do have a built-in security system that will only allow what we are able to process at one given time. I look at it as a brain hiccup, when the words are inside our psyche the stimulation is like a ping pong ball wildly moving from one word, one object, one symbol to another. Interaction is furious and can be debilitating if not released. Creating this book of poetry and prose as well as the colourful imagery of paintings has allowed a sense of release and therefore distancingfrom the main source to an operative object (paper) which in turn allowed a sense of control and an unconscious mechanism of coping through externalizing the object of concern. 

Does your painting inspire you to write a poem and does a poem inspire you to paint? 

DFO: I do believe both are one and the same, that words and imagery are both inspirational and relative to our unconscious thought process. 

Art is like painting a scene with words. Would you say it is the same for writing a poem? 

DFO: As in imaging, imagination is an essential part of our thought process and very important for a well-balanced psyche. Initially evolving imaging to its purest form then to spoken word initiating the communication to others we put words to those images. Importance to the defining of those images gives way to how we may respond or react to any given situation as well as the counter-transference of our actions within the rainbow of symbols to words and vice versa. You cannot sever emotional intelligence from verbal and visual explanation as it is part and parcel of human nature and a defining character map of our memories we so cherish. 

What are some other things that inspire you to write?  

DFO: Inspiration comes from life itself, the many small but complicated events experienced bring forth the complexities that make up a society born to question its very existence. The role playing of many scenes project symbols within a timeline that exudes our very selves. My inspiration comes from both inside and out, I am driven to educate for the most part who I am as a First Nations woman, to drop the mask and bare that which is hidden. If not for words the imaging tells it all. 

Your aunt, Daphne Odjig, is a well known Canadian artist. How is your work similar and different from hers?  

DFO: The similarity is likened to our life experience as First Nations women. Our drive is to educate, facilitate and change. As advocates for our people we strive to make this world better for our children. The imagery depicts family, humour, pain, love, honor, trust, humility, respect, courage and wisdom—all the values of our First Nations people as in the seven grandfathers. Where we are different is in our application possibly regarding how we paint as well as our geographical whereabouts. As you do know my aunt comes from a time when there was much discrimination quite blatant in its delivery whereas for my time the discrimination is cloaked and hidden but still delivered although in a very secretive way. We as women artists are driven to identify and correct this atrocity, and art as well as words are a powerful tool to do this with. 

I very much liked your poem title “Timeless stare.” How did the title come about and what was the reason for writing with such bravery? 

(It takes much bravery to face oneself and to allow others to see also ones pain) 

DFO: This poem was done at a time when I was going through much pain, struggling in the world as a single mother raising a 10-year-old daughter on my own. Trying to keep a job and a roof over our heads and food on the table which, by the way, was quite scarce. There was a secret within that I could not divulge and as I learned much later it was this secret that was festering out of control. This was a time of grief, loss of self and loss of a husband as well. My only saving grace was my daughter who also was struggling to survive. At this time I had no hope, no support, nothing that could guide me toward healthy living; this was a very painful time for myself and my daughter. Just as I was encased in this flurry of chaos so then was my dear daughter. My point to this is that even though we go through much in our lives there is always that tiny bit of sunshine that comforts and keeps us going no matter what. As I have survived all my hope is that others can begin to associate themselves with their own healing journey within. 

 

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