Interview: Thomas Sinclair
Luca Curci talks with Thomas Sinclair during Venice International Art Fair 2021, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Thomas Sinclair is Ojibway from Couchiching First Nation. He grew up in Thunder Bay in the early 80’s and was immersed in the beginning of the woodland art movement. He was taught woodland style by Isadore Wadow until the time of Isadore’s death in 1984. The rest of his childhood was spent at dancing at pow wows and sitting around campfires at night, listening to Aadizookanan, the elders tell the sacred stories. The tales of Nanaboozhoo. Adult life was spent camping and fishing, hunting and trapping, and relearning the meanings of the woodland art symbols that have their roots in the birch bark scrolls and teaching stones found at sacred sites all throughout Mother Earth.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Thomas Sinclair – Art is an an expression of a spiritual existence during a human experience. It is showing the world an unseen connection and communication and relationship between all things.
LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
TS – I turned to art as a way to find balance and healing within myself.
LC – What is your creative process like?
TS – I don’t have a creative process. I just grab a brush and paint. Art flows like water. Water is life.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
TS – Yes. My art has a theme. The colour of the human spirit. The beauty of all things. Freedom of the soul and spirit.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
TS – My subjects are both the things I see and the stories and legends of my people, the Ojibway people of Ontario Canada. I also pint the things I see in dreams. From the lodge of imagination.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
TS – The painting I created was a mixed media image specifically for the show. The paintjj in good shows on Ojibway representation of relationship between body and space. The human is mostly made of fire. The fire grows into a thunderbird. The thunderbirds holds a staff and lightning wraps around them. They stand on earth, represented by two sea shells called meegis in Ojibway. Fossilized Cowrie shells. The red rust colour paint is made by me. It is part Onaman. The sacred sand. One of the ingredients of the pictograph paint. There are also beaded circles in the eye of the thunderbird and the Center of the flower. Beadwork is a central part of my culture. Each bead sewn down one at a time.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
TS – As a Canadian First Nations person, I feel blessed to be part of the festival. They provided assistance with every step of the process from shipping and help navigating customs for taxes and duties.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with ITSLIQUID?
TS – It’s been a pleasure and a blessing to partake in the festival. I look forward to hopefully being able to participate in more events with the Itsliquid group.I am getting my second vaccination and will be able to travel international again soon. Maybe I will be able to personally be in attendance.