Sunday, February 3, 2008


The silent witness of the earth finds the voice of it's spirit in the painting of aboriginal, shamanic artist James Simon MISHIBINIJIMA , in a series of paintings titled the "Mountain Series" and "9-11." The earth as silent, sacred witness in the last voice to be heard in the aftermath of 9-11 and the ecological crisis. Art is a universal language but what is the universe theme? It is the voice that Aboriginal people have expressed for over five-hundred years as warning. It is the voice that was first introduced by Anishinabe painter Norval Morriseau, in 1962 in Toronto, and internationally in 1967, at the Montreal Expo. It is a voice expressed in symbol-a secret language of the Great Medicine Society of the Midewewin of the Anishinabek-and Morriseau broke all taboos of his culture when he broke these taboos and revealed it's images to the modern world.

Although we have learned to recognize the symbolic paintings of the Anishinabek, we have yet to understand the meaning. James Simon MISHIBINIJIMA of Manitoulin Island, leads us to this meaning and reveals the shamanic vision of Anishinabek symbolism as we face the ecological and post 9-11 uncertainly of Global proportion. It is time for the ancient meaning to be communicated to the modern world. Morriseau broke the taboos and James Simon MISHIBINIJIMA leads the way into the living meaning and vital awareness communicated in the symbols of shamanic perception.

MISHIBINIJIMA has painted these symbols in his studio for the past forty years. As a young student of the Woodland Art Studio influenced by Morriseau's break through, MISHIBINIJIMA has exhibited his prolific series of themes around the world from the Vatican, Rockefeller Center, Smithsonian, McMichael Gallery, Royal Ontairo Museum, the Colliseum and the Worlds Fair in Italy, the Moons House Art Galley in Germany, the Spirit of Sharing in Switzerland and Austria...... Now in his fifties, MISHIBINIJIMA returns full circle to Toronto, where the symbols of his culture were first revealed.

It is very important in the next millennium that man understands what he is doing to himself. For many generations the Native Elders have taught survival on Mother Earth with Harmony. Look at the Earth now, and it will remind man how far he's gone towards the path of destruction. These old teachings are written on stone and birchbark scrolls of the Anishinabek people. "If these old teachings are not available to you, just look around and see the animals, trees, water and sky. The answers occur all around us. This is how the Native people see the lands."- MISHIBINIJIMA

To observe in this way is to see the sacred and the shamanic. The "Mountain Series" penetrates the appearance of natural form to reveal the living spirit of a series of islands sacred to the Anishinabek people. The Anishinabek are the three nations of the Ojibwe ( Chippewa), Odawa ( Ottawa ), and Bodawatomie ( Pottawatomie ) with territories encompassing the Woodland areas surrounding the Great Lakes of North America.

This area was painted the Canadian artists known as the Group of Seven of Canada, in the early twentieth Century and based also in Toronto, Ontario. The group of Seven painted of the landscape by it's appearance in a post-impressionist style based upon European landscape art techniques. Mishibinijima paints the landscape in the ancient, symbolic language of the Medicine Society of his people whose beginning lies so far back in time that it founder is known as "a young man".

Comparison alone, within this perspective, is enough to create a revolution in the world of art. The exposure of ancient, sacred, secret meaning is an explosion. The "Mountain Series" reveals the shamanic perception of the shaman himself and indicates the source of this preception by placing a diamond into each canvass. Ancient tribal societies, which exist throughout the world have no financial value placed upon a diamond. What MISHIBINIJIMA expresses is the universal quality of a diamond. The flash of insight, the movement of penetration into the living spirit of the land consciously revealed, is the meaning of his diamond. What is seen in that moment is the living form revealing itself to the artist. Painting is the domain of shamans in Anishinabek society. It is the shamans who reveal in pictographs the living, breathing, communicating cosmology of the infinite universe in relation to the earth which gives birth to the recurring finite.
James Simon MISHIBINIJIMA reveals this universal shamanic awareness to reveal the caution our modern world has continually overlooked, judged as sentimental, or primitive: Mother Earth does not need man: Man needs Mother Earth. " Tribal societies are oriented to the cosmological; as modern societies erupt in violence or ecological unsustainability, ancient societies remain as witnesses to ancient teachings. These teachings realize that change must come from within. To look for rescue from without, in forms of religion, technology, or science, is to disregard the awareness cultivated within each living human being. This awareness-its, form, meaning purpose, and beauty, is the awareness communicated consciously and conscisely by James Simon MISHIBINIJIMA.