Native American, Oil on Canvas, Titled "On My Right" From the Crow Series, By Del Curfman, #1162
Oil on Canvas, Titled "On My Right " From the Crow Series, By Del Curfman, #1162
Description: #1162, Native American, Oil on Canvas, Titled "On My Right" From the Crow Series, By Del Curfman,
Dimensions: 12 x 12
Comments by the Artist Del Curfman along with his background and what inspires his work.
Art is in our humanity, which demonstrates our most fragile yet significant moments in life. As a child, I grew up in-between modernism and traditionalism, which often times left me confused, and eventually influenced me to know about the both aspects of Western life and indigenous heritage: I became eager to know and learn. Through art, I discover myself. As I study more about the history of my people, the Apsaalooké, and learn the language, the rights of passage, and the values of the Crow, I find my works transforming into a vessel that shares cultural experiences and diversity. My ancestors have been my role models and spiritual mentors. I intend to inspire and contribute to Native Community and connect to humanity through Native American contemporary art.
Del Curfman graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Studio Arts with an emphasis in painting and in Museum Studies in May 2017. He is currently a Newman’s Own Fellow at the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute based in Washington, D.C.
Curfman is known for his work with Apsaalooke’ (Crow Nation of Montana) imagery and cultural exploration. Curfman investigates heritage, tradition, and humanity through painting by incorporating techniques and styles of impressionism. With loose brushwork and semi-abstraction, he looks to capture the essence of nature in motion. He contributes through contemporary Native Artist history through his work in oil paints and community-based projects.
The Vanishing Series is a response to the perception that Native American culture has or will “vanish.” This idea of disappearance has been a mainstream thought that has only been propagated by Edward Curtis, a photographer who in 1904 produced a collection of photographs titled “Vanishing Race.”
My paintings utilize the notion of vanishing through a stark white background crossing over Native American figures as if the sands of time and space are impermanent to a permanent people. Tradition will not be lost. The Vanishing Series aims to belie this exact idea, my artwork has become a vessel of cultural sharing and knowledge.
The Crow Series follows this theme:
It was so cold. Snow fell constantly, and ice formed over all the waters. The animals had never seen snow before. At first, it was a novelty, something to play in. But the cold increased tenfold, and they began to worry. The little animals were being buried in the snow drifts and the larger animals could hardly walk because the snow was so deep. Soon, all would perish if something were not done.
"We must send a messenger to Kijiamuh Ka'ong, the Creator Who Creates By Thinking What Will Be," said Wise Owl. "We must ask him to think the world warm again so that Spirit Snow will leave us in peace."
The animals were pleased with this plan. They began to debate among themselves, trying to decide who to send up to the Creator. Wise Owl could not see well during the daylight, so he could not go. Coyote was easily distracted and like playing tricks, so he could not be trusted. Turtle was steady and stable, but he crawled too slowly. Finally, Rainbow Crow, the most beautiful of all the birds with shimmering feathers of rainbow hues and an enchanting singing voice, was chosen to go to Kijiamuh Ka'ong.
It was an arduous journey, three days up and up into the heavens, passed the trees and clouds, beyond the sun and the moon, and even above all the stars. He was buffeted by winds and had no place to rest, but he carried bravely on until he reached Heaven. When Rainbow Crow reached the Holy Place, he called out to the Creator, but received no answer. The Creator was too busy thinking up what would be to notice even the most beautiful of birds. So Rainbow Crow began to sing his most beautiful song.
The Creator was drawn from his thoughts by the lovely sound, and came to see which bird was making it. He greeted Rainbow Crow kindly and asked what gift he could give the noble bird in exchange for his song. Rainbow Crow asked the Creator to un-think the snow, so that the animals of Earth would not be buried and freeze to death. But the Creator told Rainbow Crow that the snow and the ice had spirits of their own and could not be destroyed.
"What shall we do then?" asked the Rainbow Crow. "We will all freeze or smother under the snow."
"You will not freeze," the Creator reassured him, "For I will think of Fire, something that will warm all creatures during the cold times."
The Creator stuck a stick into the blazing hot sun. The end blazed with a bright, glowing fire which burned brightly and gave off heat. "This is Fire," he told Rainbow Crow, handing him the cool end of the stick. "You must hurry to Earth as fast as you can fly before the stick burns up."
Rainbow Crow nodded his thanks to the Creator and flew as fast as he could go. It was a three-day trip to Heaven, and he was worried that the Fire would burn out before he reached the Earth. The stick was large and heavy, but the fire kept Rainbow Crow warm as he descended from Heaven down to the bright path of the stars. Then the Fire grew hot as it came closer to Rainbow Crows feathers. As he flew passed the Sun, his tail caught on fire, turning the shimmering beautiful feathers black. By the time he flew passed the Moon, his whole body was black with soot from the hot Fire. When he plunged into the Sky and flew through the clouds, the smoke got into his throat, strangling his beautiful singing voice.
By the time Rainbow Crow landed among the freezing-cold animals of Earth, he was black as tar and could only Caw instead of sing. He delivered the fire to the animals, and they melted the snow and warmed themselves, rescuing the littlest animals from the snow drifts where they lay buried.
It was a time of rejoicing, for Tindeh - Fire - had come to Earth. But Rainbow Crow sat apart, saddened by his dull, ugly feathers and his rasping voice. Then he felt the touch of wind on his face. He looked up and saw the Creator Who Creates By Thinking What Will Be walking toward him.
"Do not be sad, Rainbow Crow," the Creator said. "All animals will honor you for the sacrifice you made for them. And when the people come, they will not hunt you, for I have made your flesh taste of smoke so that it is no good to eat and your black feathers and hoarse voice will prevent man from putting you into a cage to sing for him. You will be free."
Then the Creator pointed to Rainbow Crow's black feathers. Before his eyes, Rainbow Crow saw the dull feathers become shiny and inside each one, he could see all the colors of the rainbow. "This will remind everyone who sees you of the service you have been to your people," he said, "and the sacrifice you made that saved them all."
And so shall it ever be.
Some Background on the Crow Community from the Artist and some back story to the works and their cultural importance.
"The Crow Fair Celebration is the largest Native American event in Montana, and one of the biggest powwows in the country. Held each year in Crow Agency, Montana by The Apsáalooke people of the Crow Indian Reservation just South of Hardin, Montana. Also known as the “Tipi Capital of the world”, Crow Fair begins on the third Thursday in August and attracts more than 50,000 spectators and participants from the around the world.
Besides the pow-wow, there are many other attractions. Each year the fair holds a parade, which winds its way through the campsites. The parade begins each morning of the Fair at ten o’clock. The Color Guard leads the parade with retired veterans and active members of the armed services. Following the Color Guard are the President, Vice-President, and First Vice-President of the Crow Fair. The President carries the American Flag.
The parade includes contests for best traditional dress in more than half a dozen categories. Riders on horseback are followed by elaborately decorated cars, trucks and trailers. Some are decorated in memorial to tribal elders who have passed during the prior year. Others carry multiple generations from elders to newborns. Princesses, ranging in age from preschool to 18, ride along the route, on horseback or by vehicle, wearing traditional, elaborate dress with perfect, modest poise.
The Crow Fair Pow Wow is much like pow wows throughout the west, except for more emphasis on traditional dance styles. You can pick out [the Crow tribe’s style] from hundreds of dancers because the dress ways are the same as the turn of the last century. The only additions are material things to decorate their regalia.
The pow wow grand entry begins at 1 p.m. sharp. It is led by the veteran honor guard, followed by all the dancers who will participate in the contests that have been held throughout the week. The announcer introduces competing drum groups that surround the arbor, each taking a turn keeping the beat.
In addition to the Crow people, members of other tribes come to dance and sing and sell their goods on the midway that surrounds the arbor. Dance contests, with substantial prize money, are held throughout the week with participants ranging in age from preschool to elders." (Source: Crazy Crow.com)