Drawing inspiration from the Dance painting created in 1909 by Matisse and reducing the figures from 5 to 4 and then colouring each one of them in the colours of the Native American Medicine Wheel. I then depict each figure in various biological sexes/physical builds but focus on them all looking happy. My focus is on diversity and unity. The four elements tie into this theme of diversity. I believe we have many societal problems in contemporary culture and that resolution can be found in embracing our differences.
“Unum Under The Moon” is influenced by modern art, indigenous imagery and contemporary commercial art. I aimed for a painterly technique that is familiar in the works of Van Gogh, specifically “Starry Night,” in which all individual strokes are present. I also wanted to celebrate the sky as Van Gogh did but the earth as well.
The composition is based on Matisse’s work “Dance,” I used his colour palette for the earth and sky. Most importantly, the figures are based on his to show the capricious joy of the human spirit. Four figures are depicted instead of Matisse’s five, which references the four corners of the Medicine Wheel. “No man is an island” is a poem by John Donne that plays into our intendancy as social creatures; the braids along the sides and the hands holding onto one another tie into this notion of unity.
Having created this piece in a digital format highlights a newer graphical medium to support the idea of my work and connect me to the commercialism of contemporary art. To keep the art piece fresh and relevant, I depicted each dancer differently to promote cultural diversity and diversity in body shapes and genders. It is imperative to contemporary art to investigate intersectionality and how our differences contribute to our different experiences that shape who we are.
That notion I hope that is evident to the viewer is harmony and unity achieved through cultural diversity. Unum is the gender-neutral equivalent for “one,” referring to idealized unity. I have indigenous ancestry and ancestry belonging to that of immigrants; I am the product of colonization and that of cultures coming together. I want this image to leave the viewer with a sense of appreciation for where they came from and the things that make them different and appreciate the differences in others. I believe we have many societal problems in contemporary culture, and we can find that resolution in embracing our differences and finding unity and balance with our environment.