Art with a message: we must stand for the trees, so they will stand for us.
WORDS AND ART Barbara Derrick
To many, I’m known as the “Blue Artist.”
I created my painting “Trees or Us” from the richest of colors and bluest of blue, to draw viewers telekinetically to what appears to be the image of branches on a tree. Once the viewer’s eyes are focused, the tree trunk appears to be the hands and the branches the veins. As the viewer shifts between the two images, they appear inseparable. A vibrant heart’s light emanates from the fingers that are gently clasped together. The dark blues represent the night, as traditionally my people only told stories at night, so as not to confuse the spirits.
If we don’t stand for the trees, with reverence, respect, and reciprocity, they won’t be able to stand for us.
I want to convey a message. The trees absorb pollutants from the air for us, their roots hold the earth’s soil to prevent erosion, the leaves extend to the sky to deter droughts or to slow down the high winds. Their branches hold the richness of the earth and sky and transport the energies through their veins — so much like in a human body. Without our Standing Ones, existence for the human race cannot go on. If we don’t stand for the trees, with reverence, respect, and reciprocity, they won’t be able to stand for us.
And then, which will perish first? Trees or us?
To learn more about Barbara’s artwork, writings, and teachings, visit https://nativestudioart.net.
Barbara Derrick is a self-taught artist of maternal Tsilhqot’in descent (British Columbia, Canada) and paternal Ukrainian, Hungarian, and Scottish descent. Having worked as an art educator for thirty years, she now runs Native Studio Art in Edmonton, Canada. Her artwork appears in collections in North America and Europe. In 2015 she published Walking in Your Power: Lessons from the Grandmothers. Read more from Barbara Derrick:
- Repairing the Broken Arrow: Rebuilding Cultural Identity through Art and Language
- The Gift: Healing Mother Earth with Indigenous Women’s Wisdom