About this object

History of use

The contemporary 'woodland art tradition', of which John Laford is a part, traces its roots to the ancient rock art of the Canadian Sheild and to the shamanistic tradition of bark scroll work. Cree and Ojibwa mythology and shamanistic imagery is frequently depicted in these works.

Cultural context

contemporary art; spirit painting; legend painting

Iconographic meaning

The position of one hand pointing to the lower world and another to the upper world signifies the intermediate position of the artist, who like the shaman, mediates between opposing forces. The sinuous pathway of various creatures represents the critics encountered by the artist.

Physical description

"A Self Portrait of the Artist As Shaman" painting. Depicts interconnected figures, all outlined and segmented with black lines and composed of areas of solid colour. A series of bird and bird-like figures with hooked beaks as well as three fish figures emerge from a central stylized dark yellow, red and black humanoid figure depicted in profile with tendril-like arms and legs. There is a brown circle at the top. Some underlying pencil sketching shows. Made in the Anishnaabe style.