DRSfriesen

Canadian Aboriginal Art and Spirituality: A Vital Link

2006 John W Friesen and Virginia Lyons Friesen
Detselig Enterprises.

ISBN: 978-1550593044
During the late nineteenth century and most of the twentieth century, Aboriginal art, like virtually every other component of the First Nations’ lifestyle, received short shrift in Canadian historical literature. Aboriginal philosophy was mislabeled, Native culture was misunderstood, and Indigenous art was misinterpreted and called craft. Even the spiritual bases of Aboriginal art were discounted or ignored… Today the scene is changing, thanks to the availability of more thoroughly researched accounts provided by anthropologists, artists, archeologists, educators, and historians, but most of all, due to the efforts of Indigenous researchers. Their historians, poets, artists, and elders have worked hard to set the record straight by describing historical events and cultural practices from their perspective. They have been tireless in their efforts, which are slowly bearing fruit. Aboriginal art is finally being regarded as art in its own right in the best sense of the word. The book presents a literary and visual journey, reflecting on Indigenous lifestyles and artwork of the seven major culture areas of Canada: Maritime, Eastern Woodland, Plains, Plateau, Northwest Coast, Northern, and Métis. Most of the cited Aboriginal artists are internationally known, and their careers represent a wide variety of artistic undertakings including architecture, carving, ceramics, drama, film, graphic arts, jewellery-design, mask-making, media, painting, photography, print-making, and sculpture. Canadian Aboriginal Art and Spirituality: A Vital Link, explores history, symbolism, current and historic influences, and the multi-faceted meaning of Aboriginal artistic expression in various Indigenous cultures. From the totem poles of the Northwest First Nations and the flamboyant Red River Jig of the Métis, to the intricate basketry of Maritime tribes and unique architectural design employed by the Inuit, the authors offer a holistic overview of Canadian Aboriginal Art.  
The Friesens’ literary journey is actually an educational opportunity of a lifetime, and for educators, students, libraries and others who count on well-documented facts to guarantee accurate results, one that shouldn’t be missed. Just as they have in all eight of the titles they’ve co-written since 2001, John and Virginia Friesen have used thorough research techniques that ensure historical accuracy…It is an outstanding piece of craftsmanship that proves there’s nothing more powerful than the written word…

–John Copley, Alberta Native News, February 2006
…as Calgary writer, Education professor and minister John W. Friesen argues, Native spirituality and Biblical theology actually have a lot in common… Friesen should know — an ordained minister in the All Tribes Presbytery of the All Native Circle Conference, the United Church of Canada, he found himself an active participant in Native ceremonies like the sweatlodge and sweetgrass. Participating in their ceremonies always did something to me spiritually. I went in with an open mind and I was always blessed, he says.

–Paula E. Kirman,Prairie Books Now, Summer 2001
Chapter three is the real meat of the book–this is where the authors delve into Aboriginal spirituality and its relationship to art. …Aboriginal spirituality does not target an activity or cause, it is not a significant component of life; in a very real sense, it constitutes life itself. …the chapter on Aboriginal spirituality is a must read. …Well-organized and fact-filled…a great reference book.

–Native Journal, May 2006
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