Grandfather with Bear Pipe by Gerard Tsonakwa, Abenaki
Grandfather with Bear Pipe, 2003 by Gerard Tsonakwa, Abenaki wood, abalone, leather, horse hair, deer fur, serpentine, blanket fragment 28” high x 12” wide x 6” deep
Gerard Rancourt Tsonakwa is an Abenaki Sculptor and Storyteller from Quebec, Canada.He now resides in Tucson, Arizona, and his work has been influenced both by his northern roots as well as the southwest where he has found a new home.Using stone, antler, bone and wood, he creates powerful masks and sculptures which draw from Native American social and spiritual traditions. With contemporary as well as ancient techniques, he creates works of art which have a beauty, originality and energy.
Tsonakwa carries on the traditions of his father:
"When I left my dear Canada, I came into a world of cities that I had only begun to understand. For a long time I had difficulty dealing with the different ways and attitudes about life and the land. I became trapped in the cities, I never blended in. I became a Metis, a walker in the shadows between worlds and did not belong to either. I walked about with a life so small I could carry it under my fingernails.
I finally had to choose a way of living and I chose the old ways. Taking heart in the old ways and images of home, I did what my father had always asked me to do...carve the memories of the people. Carve the light and shadow of the forest, wild birds crying in the broken sky, joyful splashing of fins in the river, and a small breeze in the grass.
And then my life and some of the life around me changed. An old spirit came back and life became so great that the sky could not cover it, the mountains and forests could not contain it, neither the wind nor the rivers could move it.
Now, in every piece of good stone or wood I hear a voice like the wind in the forests and the mighty wind in the mountain peaks that bends the trees. It says to the ear ‘Look now and be careful, for already you too are an ancestor to generations yet to be born." -Tsonakwa
Works by Gerard Rancourt Tsonakwa are in the permanent collections of the following institutions:
Field Museum American Indian Archeological Institute Medicine Hat Museum University of Nebraska Museum Bell Museum of Natural History Wheelwright Museum San Diego Museum of Man Schiel Museum Schiel Museum Charlotte Natural History Museum Vermont State Historic Society Bell Museum of Natural History