Minority and Justice Commission
I Am the Trail of My Ancestors
About the Artist
The artwork entitled "I Am the Trail of My Ancestors" is an original painting by the talented and prolific Pacific Northwest artist Chholing Taha. The result of months of painstaking work, it is painted on 400 pound Arches watercolor paper with high density acrylic paints with gold and silver powdered/sealed metal accents.
Born in 1948, the Cree/Iroquois/French Native Woman, who grew up in the Northeastern woodlands of the United States and Canada, experienced a rich and varied environment which influences her work today. Although formally trained in art, even without that training, she has during her lifetime manifested an innate talent which transcends formal training and which contemplates spirituality, vivid colors, historic references and visual imagery, making her one of the most notable and admired artists of her generation. She has been an active professional artist since 1972.
A graduate of Boise State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drawing and Painting, Ms. Taha also graduated from the University of Washington with a Master in Library Information Service degree. She maintains her studio in Tacoma, Washington.
The extensive catalogue of Ms. Taha's art, available on her website, reveals a massive and impressive array of paintings, shawls, moccasins and jewelry. Her paintings are exhibited in galleries and corporate offices throughout the Northwest.
The Washington State Minority and Justice Commission selected the painting "I Am the Trail of My Ancestors" not only for its visual beauty, but also because it is the intensely serious work of a talented Native American artist and dramatically focuses attention on our Native American culture. In a large sense it is relevant to the underlying theme of this report which focuses on the interrelationship between tribal courts in this State and Washington State courts.
An observer asked Ms. Taha why figures in many of her paintings do not have faces detailed on them (as is evident in the cover art). Her response was that she leaves a blank canvas within a finished painting-the face-so whoever views these experiences will have a place to stand within the image without any preconceived notions, confusion or likeness to distract from a deep sharing of their heart's vision.
According to Ms. Taha, each of her paintings depicts an inner transformation. The stories they tell are from dialogues with her aunts, other relatives and friends who braved the journey to discover their true "self." Often they were a healing of sorts, a confrontation with spirits and self-realization, or the peace of collecting medicine.
Perhaps her specific words can provide a unique insight into the art of Ms. Chholing Taha:
"I invite you to come along with me and walk slowly together along the road towards home. The intimate experience of an internal dialogue will bridge time and space for human beings and all living matter and invoke a universal living experience to encourage, bring hope, inspire and touch the child sleeping within all of us.
"It is my wish to bring a sense of wonder, common bonds and excitement between the audience and myself through narrative and the experience we share-an experience of symbols, emotions, confrontations, life and death, and beyond."