Ben our family lifelong friend introduced me to his cousin Susan in 2009, together we explored Aazhoodena. I wanted to know more about the area, the people and their perspective. Ben introduced me to so many beautiful souls and magical places inside Ipperwash, we all could feel Creator’s presence. Together we shared, laughed, cried and united our spirits to each other and this beautiful place.
Later, I asked Susan if I could paint her portrait, although she seemed shy, humbly she agreed. I asked her to bring her drum, her writings, her stories to share I was trying to see her spirit. As I focused and started to work, I could see Susan’s spirit it was full of love and healing so guided by Creator. I saw my own spirit in hers we were connected.
In 2009/2010 I did other artworks, some cooperative pieces one with Ben’s mom. Also, I painted portraits of Ben and his mother Margaret. The art was put in a couple art shows in 2010 in Windsor, On. Ben came to the art show in his suit and Susan wore her beautiful smile. It was a special event for all of Us.
At the art exhibit Susan was being asked by people is that you? Referring to her portrait. She said she felt" like a rock star", accepted and fully seen by the world outside her community for the first time. Susan and I realized something wonderful happen through art. We both thought maybe we can do something more, throw a larger net to include others in this healing. We asked Creator to give us direction.At the end of the exhibit all the portraits were gifted back to Ben, Margaret and Susan. They seemed very happy to receive their gifts.
In 2015, I lived in Windsor and part of the founding group of woman, together we started the Co-operative gallery now called Walkerville Artist’s Co-op. It was there I started developing & teaching Intuitive Energy Painting.
My most enthusiatic student was Susan who drove in winter to the workshops, alone at night. Susan said the 21/2 hour drive was worth it, it did something amazing to her. I urged, Susan to bring someone for the long drive to keep her company.
Susan was excited to attend a second 3 day workshop. I was afraid of her travelling alone at night, she refused to stay over and she wanted to sleep tight in her own bed. Susan brought our friend from Port Franks Sonja with her. Sonja also said the workshop caused something magical to happen to her. Both said being in the workshop did something to them, healing, an awakening or a connection to something wonderful.
Susan as a First Nation woman in a cruel colonized world had been through many heartaches and losses. I prayed maybe art could help heal her broken heart. I think it did some good. This good was created, not because of my teacher or artist ability but by Susan connecting to her own direct access to Creative Source.
Susan and I continued our friendship over the years, long walks, deep conversations and two grandma's sipping tea together. We often talked about doing something bigger to make a positive change, for the future of All our grandchildren. Again, we asked Creator to give direction.
Then like a push through a doorway, Susan and I realized something. If the workshops helped her with healing maybe it can help others. We both wholeheartedly agreed. Then she added "what about the portraits?"" I know lots of people who would like a portrait".I was a little afraid I was taking on too much and not sure I had the skills, or enough time but I felt with Creator’s help anything is possible. I agreed with Susan, “I will do portraits too”.
Also we felt an urgency, to move quickly in 2017,we started Me, You and Us workshops. We thought of ourselves as two grandma's trying to create a kinder future for All our grandchildren.We tried to bring half First Nations and the other half from outside the community to do art many together for the first time.By bringing these two groups together we hoped to create more kindness, more understanding and compassion for people different from themselves people they knew little about, and hopefully plant a seed for real friendships.
We held workshops at Ausable Port Franks community centre and Golden Eagle Elder’s Lodge. It was magical, people who didn’t know each-other before became friends. On the third day of the workshop no one wanted to leave we all wanted more, more laughter, more tears, more kindness, more sharing, more compassion and more togetherness. People from different cultures and beliefs came together. They took a leap of faith and crossed the street into the scary place of the unknown, and together they became more.
At the same time I frantically painted spirit portraits 27 in total, all I could physically complete in less than 2 years. Susan and I interviewed people asking them to tell us about their spirit. Susan took photographs. We both wanted people to realize, how wonderful and worthy they are. All people are worthy of a portrait of their spirit.Even the chief of KPSP First Nation agreed to have his portrait done,we were so honoured.
The exhibit travelled throughout southern Ontario ending in Ottawa, July 2019. Me,You & Us brought a busload of people from the area to Ottawa, and friendships grew.The positive energy, and love that propelled this project was felt by people who came to the exhibit, some were in tears. Susan and I were amazed that people could feel our sincere motivation to bring people together to create Us.
All the portraits were gifted to the subjects at the end of the tour. Susan and I went on an adventure together to open hearts and make positive change using the power of Creative Source. It was a huge success. How can I thank Susan enough for giving me the most precious gift a woman can give her heart and her trust. I am so honoured to know her and be in her glow. She has taught me so much about kindness, generosity, she is so loving to All. Susan has so much and so many blessings to share, eagles follow her wherever she goes. Susan shares such beauty and laughter medicine with everyone.
The gift she gave me that I cherish the most is her trust, trust with her community, trust with her family and trust with her broken heart. We together created more understanding, more compassion and more love in our communities.
Susan says I pushed her beyond her comfort zone to speak in public and to trust people outside her community. Susan pushed me into the unknown to believe we could create change trusting Creator and our vision using art as our tool and it did. I believe Susan and I were brought together to build bridges across a vast divide. I am forever grateful for being connected to Susan. She is in my heart forever. She has shared so much with me about life and the joy of giving to others.
Chi miigwetch Susan.
Forever grateful with much respect Suellen.