(acrylic painting on panel, 18×24)
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
—Arthur C. Clarke
Keewaydinoquay transforms plants into a healing energy under the blanket of night during the blueberry moon…
The plants are flowering tobacco, a heavily-used plant source for her people; before going to pick plants for medicinal use, the Anishinaabe would make an offering of tobacco. This offering was made because the person was asking the plant for assistance, and the plant was to be treated as any other living being—human, animal, or spirit—when it was being asked for its services. Keewaydinoquay (walks-with-bears) got her name from an incident involving two very large bears as a toddler while her parents were picking blueberries (In her culture, each month names its moon for something important from that month; in this case, it was the blueberry harvest.). They had left her in a hammock in a tree, but when they came back, she had somehow gotten herself down, and was walking in between the bears, holding onto each by their fur in order to keep herself upright. She later became a medicine woman and ethno-botanist.
When I first started the painting, there were two simple vials, one in each hand. the lunar dew (blueberry-flavored) and the green and gold of the tobacco dripped into the bottom of one vial, mixed together, and traveled up a tube into the other vial, where it formed a larger petal-leaf that then shaped itself into a bird. Then i decided to make the one vial reach up for the blooms, so that no part of the process was not alive—so the other vial’s opening also became a hand, gently (sadly?) relinquishing its grip on the transformed spirit that would now leave for parts unknown. Because part of the process of healing is letting go of the thing that is toxic to you, which is something we’re not always willing (or completely able, without help) to do.
Here is a quote from Ovid which relates a similar process of transformation, Daphne’s metamorphosis into a laurel to escape an attempted rape— this would underline the idea that above, she is somehow fusing with the plants which then become the birds, healing herself, or simply putting her own spirit fully into the healing process of her patient…:
“prayer barely out, heavy numbness seizes
limbs, soft breasts enclose in bark, hair
in leaf, arms branch, feet (so swift)
root; head, a tree-top”
This painting was my contribution for Ada Lovelace Day (today), which honors women in technology.