Oil on collaged board with papers from a Japanese report, 2023. 48″, collection of the artist available for purchase.

In the Tlingit culture, stylized animals and humans adorn everything from spoons to houses. Stories of the creatures is communicated through painted “formline”. The energy of these animals can be evoked by dancing a ceremonial blanket appliquéd with their image. Most often, the creatures depicted are clan animals such as Bear, Wolf, Frog. These animals have very different personalities and innate strengths and weaknesses.

Indigenous people across the globe are conditioned from birth to perceive the world as whole and completely intertwined. Our physical and metaphysical worlds are connected and interdependent.

In colonized lands, such as the United States, children are conditioned to view themselves as Individuals. Our compulsory education system was designed to indoctrinate us and make us obedient servants to the state. In order to produce workers for the capitalist machine, the fundamental public school framework deprives us of confidence, critical thinking skills, connection and community. To learn more about the foundation of our federal school system, I recommend the quick-read, “Dumbing Us Down” by John Taylor Gatto.

Additionally, relatively recent societal events that have redirected humanity away from an intertwined world view include the Age of Enlightenment (emphasis on reason and empirical evidence), Industrialization (fostered a sense of alienation and detachment from nature and traditional values), Scientific Materialism (loss of religious certainties), and the Media and Information Age (exposure to diverse perspectives and ideas, leading to a sense of skepticism about universal truths).

The negative effects of nation-wide brainwashing and the subversive polarization of society is seen in everything from medicine to resource extraction. Reclamation of indigenous knowledge and understanding is paramount to confronting the looming catastrophic events we’re facing today.

When we respect the interconnectedness of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being, we foster balanced children. When we prioritize a deep connection with the natural world, we support ecological sustainability. When we teach empathy and celebrate cultural diversity, we emphasize cooperation over individualism and ethical relationships over economic growth.

The energy that Spider evokes is one of connectedness and interdependence. When she weaves, she bridges the realms of the physical with the intangible. Her intricate tapestry connects the human, natural, ancestral and spiritual worlds. Each thread relies on the supporting threads of the web, reminding us of the importance of harmonious coexistence.