CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Painting the sacred relationship between nature and humanity

By Janet Jarrell/Quinte Arts Council

Tyler Tabobondung Rushnell, recently featured in the Quinte Arts Council Gallery window, is a 21-year-old self-taught Ojibwe artist. Born and raised in Belleville, Rushnell says he grew up knowing very little about the culture of his community of origin, Wasauksing First Nation in Parry Sound, Ont., so he took it upon himself to learn. “I stay connected to my community through travels when I’m able, and in speaking with cousins and aunties and uncles through social media. I was able to have my first ceremony this year where I was gifted a Migizi (eagle) feather and it helps me and guides me every day to do well for my community,” says Rushnell.

His paintings are inspired by the woodland style that he was introduced to at Trenton High in art class. “I took a great liking to it. I felt it was right for me one day to start doing woodland style because then I was finding myself as an Indigenous person and had something that gave me strength and a bit more identity.”

Rushnell is creating his own signature, unique style with bright colours, images full of nature, symbolism and the message of the sacred relationship between nature and humanity.

“We are all connected to nature and it is really important to respect the messages given to us by nature,” says Rushnell. “I’ve been recently trying to learn more teachings about respecting the animals and plants and everything we see in nature whenever we go outside. It’s just a natural connection that I have. We are star people.”

When asked what he would like to share about himself, he says, “I would like to tell the art community that Indigenous peoples are still here and we are loving and respectful and have beauty in our culture. I’m Tyler Tabobondung Rushnell, Anishinaabe from Wasauksing First Nations. And my family and friends, and the close community around me, inspires me every day to produce, create and share my culture with all relations. chi miigwech.”

More of Tyler’s work can be found on Instagram at @Ty_rushnell.

This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2020 issue of Umbrella magazine, delivered to QAC members’ mailboxes shortly. This limited edition will also be available in select locations.