About Alan Syliboy
Like many others in my generation, I grew up believing that native art was generic - what you see on TV and in other mass media. Visual expressions are part of what makes a culture unique, and, although Mi'kmaq designs are similar to other North American woodland tribes, you can easily recognize the difference.
I looked to the indigenous Mi'kmaq petroglyph tradition (rock drawings) for inspiration and developed my own artistic vocabulary out of those forms.
This purely Mi'kmaq vocabulary he has allowed my brush and pen to lead me to images of family for my series of serigraph prints and more recently my "memory portraits" of my relatives that I call "the Syliboy Series". I have put new faces on the flow of constellations and galaxies with "Grandfather and Grandmother".
I celebrate past, present, and future with strong family-centered images suggesting the fantasies of Klee and Miro to those familiar with European art history, but their artistic roots are firmly twined around the rocks found in the ancient grounds of Nova Scotia.
I want my own people to enjoy my art. If many Mi'kmaq do not go to museums on Sunday afternoons, that doesn't mean that they do not enjoy art.
As my exploration of painting and my understanding of Mi'kmaq spiritualism expanded, my confidence and ability grew with it. Since my family is where I am centered, everything else is exterior.
Recently a lost Mi'kmaq story was made into a book and I had the opportunity to illustrate "The Stone Canoe" and because it was discovered recently and was treated with respect, it is very true to the Mi'kmaq style of storytelling.
The use of Mi'kmaq petroglyph (rock drawing) records found throughout the Maritime Provinces has provided some inspiration for the development of my general theme - the pride and understanding I feel for my cultural heritage. Most of my subjects deal with family, searching, struggle and strength. All of these things are part of my art, and my art gives me strength for my continuing spiritual quest.
As a youth, I was unsure of my talents, I found painting painful and difficult because I was unsure of my identity. But my confidence grew when I studied privately with Maliseet artist Shirley Bear and then attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where 25 years later, in 1997, I was invited to sit on the Board of Governors.
I created Red Crane Enterprises as a vehicle to sell my work of original fine art, prints, cards, T-shirts, sculpture and pottery. My work is sold at galleries, shows and retail outlets across North America, as well as in Japan and Europe. I am continually exploring and expanding my horizons, from my home studio to my new Web studio.
Check out my bands web page.