Featured Artist - Phyllis Fast

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Searching for a Past
"Searching for a Past"
transparent watercolor, acrylic collage, 17" x 11"

This painting, like the self-portrait, emerged from a healing dream. My aunt Jane died in 1992, and I started "Searching for a Past" after I realized that I had failed to glean from her as I had from my mother sufficient information about their lives as Native women to understand myself as a Native woman. The collage signifies frustration, reworking, overworking, and hating the effort. I felt the compulsive drive of my guides to organize and synthesize my thoughts. The hands of my guides are symbolized as hand and claw. The voices of my guides and the dream images of my ancestors floated through my dreams, emerging in confusion overlying deeper confusion. In the end I jettisoned a few favorite illusions about the impetus of monolithic culture to guide my life, and I wondered for the thousandth time what culture has to do with it anyway?

There are two ancient glyphs in this painting whose meaning has been signaled to me follows. The concentric ovoids or squared shapes are indicative of sacred instructions emerging from the sacred source of dreams. The spiral shapes surrounding the central figure reflect the power of the sacred which surrounds a dreaming in sacred thought.


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