Painter Dozay Captures Native Legends and Landmarks on Cape Breton Island
Dozay (Arlene Christmas) is an aboriginal artist living on Cape Breton Island, where she researched legends about the native Mi’kmaq hero, Glooscap. Gradually she came to visit particular spots where these stories took place and created air brush, acryllic paintings celebrating both the legends and these landmarks. Her work is so good that it is being showed at local native cultural galleries, at Cabot Shores Resort; and will travel to Melbourne, Australia in late 2009 and, in 2010 be representative of aboriginal maritime art at the Vancouver Olympics.
What landmarks and legends did she discover in her research?
The stories portray Glooscap as a hero and one story tells of his canoe. Dozay portrays this canoe and how according to legend it broke and became the Bird Islands across from Indian Brook on the Atlantic side of Cape Breton island..
Another nearby landmark is Cape Dauphin, where on the cliffs sits the famous Glooscap Cave. This is a sacred spot for the local Mi’kmaq and they and other viewers are captivated by the way this cave is represented in Dozay’s painting called Glooscap’s Door. The Mi’kmaq said that if one offered the right kind of fish and fuel, good luck could be received.
Finally, there is the quality of Cape Breton Island itself which in Mi’kmaq is called “Unamagi” or “land of fog”.Her paintings have this haunting aspect to them.
A Wide Connection of Nature & Legend Across the Wabanaki (Maritime based tribes)
Although Dozay grew up in the Maliseet tribe in New Brunswick, she found a similar connection to nature and to the sea among the Mi’kmaq with whom she lives now in Cape Breton Island.
And Dozay believes that what is represented in the Glooscap legends is really a kind of leadership and teaching that goes across the heritage of each of the 5 tribes in the Algonquin conferation called “Wabanaki”:
Dozay said of Glooscap: “he was as real as the landmarks he left behind. Just as he is to all the Wabanaki tribes throughout the Maritimes.”
Dozay’s Art is Kicking off a Wabanaki Festival
Dozay’s art is making its way on Cape Breton from the Galleries at Wagmatcook and Membertou to Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort which sits opposite these Bird Islands and Glooscap’s Cave. There, Dozay’s Art Show will kick off the first Wabanaki Art and Cultural Festival on Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail.
Dozay has invited native elders and fellow aboriginal artists to participate in this gathering which is being called “Wabanaki Ways.” These artists are united in an organization called Nations in a Circle. This group wishes to extend the teachings of Glooscap and other native teachers as well as creative expression through art to both native and non-native peoples.