Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shelly Niro's Skywoman Series

by: Michelle Murdock, Curator of Exhibitions
In the summer of 2001, Shelley Niro created this series of four paintings based on the story of Skywoman, who plays a central role in the Iroquois Creation Story. She worked in a loghouse on the grounds of the Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, New York. Niro had lived in the same loghouse as a child, before it was moved to the museum. She said of her experience, “I had no real intention of making drawings based on the Skywoman Creation Story. I knew I wanted to make something expressing freedom, no boundaries, and I had a real hunger to use the human form as a base for this project.”

Preparing for the Fall is the first in the series. A modern Skywoman falls through the hole in the sky where the Great Tree of Life once stood and makes a hopeful attempt to try to pull herself back up to the surface. Instead she grabs onto tobacco plants and strawberry plants.

Losing My Stuff is the second in the series. As Skywoman continues to fall, piece by piece, the things she carries start to fall away. Her beautiful red blanket gets whisked away and her sunglasses, used to keep out the brilliant rays of the sun, disappear into the cosmos.

Through The Constellations shows Skywoman resigning herself to the journey’s struggle. After months of worrying about her destiny—Where is she going? What will she find there? Does her family in the Skyworld worry for her and wonder where she is?—she starts to think about the future. She is pregnant and now worries for her unborn child. She begins to plan and rest up for the conclusion of her voyage.

Loving It is the final painting in the series. Skywoman is near the end of the expedition and now embraces the adventure of this passage. With the medicinal plants she brings from the Skyworld, to the relationships she will eventually make with the animal world and water world, she becomes the mother and role model for those who follow her.

Shelley Niro’s paintings are on view in Our Stories Made Visible: Two Mohawk Women Artists. The 7th Contemporary Iroquois Art Biennial featuring Katsitsionni Fox and Shelley Niro through July 5.

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin