Métis artist Christi Belcourt's works infuse teachings with art in ways that feel like they are waking up memories. The Anishinaabe singing game Honour Water shares the name of one of her paintings. Although that wasn't intentional on my part, I'm sure I was influenced by her art and that this is exactly how it was intended to unfold. From recalling the teachings about trillium that my Anishinaabe and Métis mother Grace L. Dillon gifted to me to reinforcing the vital role of copper, Belcourt's art inspires and uplifts me. Her paintings are like the prayers in water songs. Every painted bead is like a note, and, all connected, the points carry vibrations like a song with a message of healing.
Belcourt's work reinforces why I am so passionate about creating art. As artists, as storytellers, as designers, we are not only sharing an aesthetic--we are sharing teachings about science. From ecological knowledge to star knowledge, there is so much that reveals itself to those who look and listen. For example, the copper visitors in Belcourt's "Honour Water" (2010) are spirits and caretakers. I also see them as representations of the amplification of electric connections in water. As I understand from what my mother has taught me, we live in the constant motion of water and light (waves and photons). Since I see this way, from an Anishinaabe worldview, I acknowledge that the sky also includes water and that the copper in "Honour Water" is interacting with that form of water.
Similarly, in Belcourt's "Water Song" (2011), medicinal plants, flowers, birds, and insects are fluidly connected with copper gently joining throughout the dance of the life that echoes and replicates. Like a water song with layers of repeat verses, Belcourt's painting portrays balance.
Whether as a vessel for carrying water during walks, flourishing in the water in the lakes, or as spirits in space, copper fills the role of strengthening communication through electricity + water. Songs, too, serve as communication that carry resonances.
In looking back to Belcourt's work, I'm also looking forward, with hope that the game Honour Water will encourage new voices to sing for healing the water, recognizing that water is life.