Eiteljorg Musuem Blog

2013 Indian Market and Festival signature artist Todd Bordeaux

by Todd Bordeaux, 2013 Indian Market & Festival signature artist | Jun 19, 2013

2013 Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival signature artist, Todd Bordeaux writes about the importance of art.
todd bordeaux
I have a hard time saying that I create anything, for grandmother earth creates everything necessary for life. I rearrange natural, synthetic and found objects to mold beautiful, historical and sometimes controversial ideas into what is called fine art. There is no word for art in the traditional Lakota (Sioux) language, and my own understanding of art has no single, simple definition.

I view art as a gift, a privilege and a responsibility to the ancient ones to carry on our original philosophy; our indigenous ideas of spirituality; and to correct historical inaccuracies. Having the opportunity to tell the stories of the original peoples of Turtle Island is truly inspirational. My fertility poles are one example of how my art communicates the teachings of our elders. Where today’s dominant culture is often male-centric, original indigenous philosophy revolved around honoring women with ceremonies for their health and the health of generations yet to come. The fertility pole contains amulets imbued with power representing all four genders acknowledging and honoring our homosexual, lesbian, and transgender brothers and sisters. These original teachings existed long before Columbus.  They are ancient ideas that today’s mainstream culture is just starting to accept. My work allows me to express new and ancient ideas; opening a pathway for humanity to evolve in a natural way. Art can help forge a strong and healthy culture.

Art is also important for individual development. I view art as a way of constructing our own reality. When I complete a piece and a viewer sees and feels my intention—when they really get it—that interaction is illuminating and satisfying.  I hang photos of my grandmas and grandpas over my work space so they can see what I am doing and so that I remember and honor them. I want them to be proud of me; they influence all of my work. Wanting to impress our elders, our mother, father, our teachers, this is a childish bliss, yet very important for personal growth I believe this is achievable through the arts.

Great art is the marker of great cultures. The ancient ones possessed incredible art unprecedented even today, and on such a grand scale it completely bewilders the mind. Studying it – some of it 10,000 years old – humbles and teaches me. It resonates for millennia. When we study ancient cultures, what do we look at? We look at their art. Generations from now they will study us by reviewing what artists create today. Art resonates... it lasts, remember that.

Aho hecetu welo!   
Todd LoneDog Bordeaux                        

Todd Bordeaux was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is of German, Polish, and Sicangu Lakota heritage. He lives and creates on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation on the same homestead where his father, grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents lived. Bordeaux states that art has changed his life, and since starting his fine art career at age 30 he has won 50 major awards in juried shows, including the prestigious Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award in 2012.

Stop by to visit – and have a deep philosophical conversation – with Todd at Indian Market and Festival, June 22-23.



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