Michael A. Koby Turtleheart is a 2S (Cree & Eastern Tsalagi) artist & storyteller - downloading the ancestors, remixing them in the present, & sending them as Medicine 2 the future generations.
“Most important to me is that my work marks a particular place, space, and time - an individual living in the modern world, in the middle of nowhere - and communicating with the land, the universe, & the ancestors. Some times I am inspired by snow on a prairie I walk through, a horse in a field, or a story my grandmother told me as a child. This land, these waterways speak - And I hope the artwork tells their stories…that when I paint I’m communicating in the same primal language….”
"On ‘Freedom’ I wanted 2 painted horses running - unbridled, dust being displaced behind them. The idea of what it means to be truly free. What if we were entirely cut free of everything that holds us back? What does it feel like to be completely free - to speak honestly, to be oneself, to create what we really want to create, to sing our own songs? When I’m creating I often dream up stories as the image comes to life on the canvas - while painting this one, I was thinking about two painted war ponies. Their keepers or riders cut them free before being captured. For a moment they are confused and stay still (thinking they are still restrained or held back by their handlers). Then something shifts - these horses realize they are unrestrained - they run full speed ahead, leaving only dry prairie dust behind."
"On the ‘Pace’ design, the idea of the red handprint (originally placed on a horses as a warning to enemies or a mark of protection) is so important now in our own times due to the issue of MMIWG2S (the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit). This epidemic of targeted violence has gone too long unreported & underreported. A red handprint now represents the Missing & Murdered throughout the United States and Canada - these are our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunties, cousins, friends - to me the red handprint now means ‘Bring Them All Home’.
On the ‘Strength’ design the red horse body doubles as a simplified/abstract eagle feather. The horse and eagle feather are powerful - they represent Strength - they are Messengers - there is a spiritual thread that connects us people to both the horse and the eagle. The spiritual and life energy of both animals is conveyed by the blue arrow extending out from both.
Two Cree in a Canoe
Riding Under the Stars
ᐋᐧᐱᓯᐤ ᓵᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Swan Lake)
"Working with Carla throughout the process was very rewarding - she believed in my artistic process to create something Plains Cree; but also modern and in my own voice. She really listened to what I expected out of the process as far as representation (whether it was the models being indigenous or the inclusion of a major issue like MMIWG2S). I felt really free to create something we both could proudly stand behind."
Michael A. Koby Turtleheart
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