Saturday, February 09, 2013


This post is dedicated to 
Carole Parks and Todd Benson.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my friend Carole introduced me to the idea of art journals. She encouraged me to make my own journal, though I have to admit that I did not like the idea of creating a book. Instead, I envisioned painting six-by-nine inch cards that feature semi-iconic images. My original plan called for these images to hang from a clothes line with wooden clothes pins. Perhaps in the back of my mind, I found something appealing about creating semi-sacred images that would be displayed on a mundane string for hanging clothes. For me, this did not denigrate the sacred quality of the images, but rather it would have served to sanctify the mundane. 

When I was a child, I recall that my coopyaya used to have a set of blue enamel cups and bowls, like the ones I see now in the camping aisle. They were so common, and yet when I see them now, I feel a sense of the sacred. I pictured the clothes line in a similar way, but ultimately I never displayed them in that way. They are simply pinned to my wall at home. 

These images were painted with watercolor pencil and then outlined with a Pitt Pen. I sealed each piece and then covered them with Mod Podge. For display on this page, I did clean some of the edges.

When I first began painting in this style, I was especially fascinated in different cultural representations of the heart. My first watercolor piece was ilmixʷm spuʔusc (Chief of Hearts), as seen above. This card was really more of an experiment with the process of watercolor pencil, but I also intended it to show a humorous aspect with a Native chief superimposed on the western King of Hearts card.  

My second piece explores the Catholic iconography associated with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Something about icons just absolutely intrigues me, but I can't really say why. Perhaps I feel drawn to the Jungian archetypes that underlie these works, or perhaps a part of me still believes in the old magic of sacred images. 

I consider my third piece a portrait, but not of any human acquaintance. Some years ago, I had a spiritual experience where I felt connected to the spirit of the bitterroot. Many of the old stories talk about the orange heart at the center of the root, so I depicted the bitterroot with its heart on the outside. Again, something about this piece seems like an icon in its own right. Maybe it's strange to say, but I feel happy just to look at these faces. 

My fourth piece followed the heart theme one step further. In this portrait, I depicted my great aunt Messie Moses Haines. During her lifetime, I always felt nurtured by her boundless love and support. Even after she made her journey, I often felt her guidance from the other side. She was a big-hearted woman. I blended the image of a heart into the flowers on her blouse, and I wrote the phrase kʷin xmenč (I love you) as a subtitle to the painting. To this day, I still miss her.  

This piece departed from the overt heart theme, but still depicts one of the primary plants in my cultural tradition: the camas. When the blue flowers of the camas return every year, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for our traditional foods. 

This piece honors the bluejay.  

This piece was inspired by a friend from Indiana. She visited Spokane a couple summers ago and had hoped to buy a deck of tarot cards in our community. Unfortunately for her, she was unable to find a deck that she liked, so I felt moved to create something for her. As a result, I painted the first card in the tarot - the Fool, but instead of using the traditional fool imagery, I painted Coyote as the Fool, complete with overlapping Salish concepts. 

I painted a second Tarot card based on the Salish concept of spiritual power. As with Catholic icons, I find myself drawn - almost mesmerized - by tarot imagery. Of course, tarot cards have been maligned by many of the world's religions, but I feel the condemnation is somewhat misplaced. I certainly don't believe that tarot cards provide any special access to the devil, nor do I believe that they necessarily predict the future. Rather, I see them in a somewhat Jungian perspective. They tap into the collective unconscious of archetypal images and provide insight into the ways people create meaning in their lives. Like a classic ink blot test, much of their value consists in holding an image that a person then imbues with meaning. Individual interpretations are much more valuable to me than 'fortune telling.'

Copyright © 2013 Barry G. Moses; All Rights Reserved.


Cain and Todd Benson said...

I love your portrait of great aunt Messie Moses Haines

Cain and Todd Benson said...

I love symbols too. The catholic Sacred Heart of Jesus has always been a favorite of mine also. You should paint more.

Jennifer said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I'm transported by your paintings, thank you for sharing them, and thanks to your friend for encouraging what was already there, and just needed encouragement. Percy


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