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The buffalo is a central character in my artwork.
It is an animal synonymous with the Indigenous people & history of the great plains,
and is a strong symbol of tenacity, courage and abundance.
The artworks here are from two painting series,
the buffalo code series & the ekwa buffalo series.
There are also individual buffalo artworks in other series.
All the buffalo paintings are available as archival quality giclee printed paintings on paper & canvas.
There are also various other buffalo artworks in my 3D work.
Scroll down this page to read more about them.
Buffalo Code artworks
I made the first buffalo artwork in this series, St. Paul Buffalo #1, around the same time as I shot the footage of the Hochunk Nation’s buffalo calves that the ekwa buffalo series is based on. The buffalo is cut out of the page of the St. Paul MN white pages that the name Buffalo is on (that was back when we still used white pages..).
I collaged it onto a brown paper bag from the supermarket (the buffalo is often called ‘the supermarket of the plains’), and drew a kind of red mandala around it. The mandala is like the rings of a tree with count marks on it. The count marks can represent Native people, or the buffalo, and the rings represent endless generations of both.
Years later, I’ve picked up this series again. In the time since I made the St. Paul Buffalo, the world has completely embraced digital technology. These newer buffalo live in a world of binary code. They are speaking a language that is both highly contemporary and digital, and ancient – as binary code is said to precede Sanskrit, which is the most ancient written language. So the buffalo code can be understood by computers, and by ancestors.
The binary code is saying words that are important in First Nations cultural and spiritual practices, and also highly relevant Universally. They often also have great personal meaning to me, and I see them like beacons to help me on my own path.
Ekwa Buffalo Series
Ekwa means ‘Now is the Time’ or ‘Right Now’ in Plains Cree. I chose the name ekwa because these paintings are
a strong image of history, yet so ‘in the moment’. They’re also a stirring beacon for the future of all of us.
These paintings came into being as part of a synchronistic adventure. Years ago, I shot video footage of two young bison who were a marvelous gift from one American Indian Nation to another, given in order to start their own herd & help the Buffalo Nation to recover. The footage evolved over time into both an animation, Red Buffalo Skydive (which has been screened internationally including at the Sundance Festival) & these Bison artworks.
So part of what makes this series unique is that each painting is based on a single frame of video footage.
They are animals we have such an ancient relationship with, painted with the most contemporary digital media media.
Other Buffalo Artwork
Some of my other work involving the Buffalo Nation includes the multimedia installations Buffalo Basket (now owned by the UBC Museum of Anthropology), as well as Puskwa Moostoos Waskigun (Home of the Buffalo). I created that while I was in residency at the Western Front in Vancouver in 2007. In Puskwa Moostoos Waskigun, you can walk inside a ‘soft architecture’ or ante-chamber created by three large perpendicular screens. Once inside you are immersed in a landscape of buffalo. A medley of individual animals and herds travels across the three screens, surrounding the viewer with images and sounds of Bison.
Buffalo Basket came earlier. It’s made of a small shopping cart with its basket woven with red willow. The basket is covered in a hide dome that looks like a tiny sweat lodge. The interior is lined with moss, and nests a small video screen playing images of buffalo. The loud bellows of the Buffalo bulls emanate from inside the basket and fill the room it’s in.
Some earlier Buffalo artworks include the Mixed Blood Buffalo Ballgown, a hand-painted taffeta gown. It’s half red/half white and has ledger-drawing-style buffalo bounding across the white half. Recently I reworked these ballgown buffalo into the red buffalo mural on concrete digital painting.