11/13/06 — American Indian artist honored for his work

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American Indian artist honored for his work

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 13, 2006 1:45 PM

Every time Dreamweaver glides his brush across a blank canvas, he's connected with his ancestors -- members of the Haliwa-Saponi and Tuscarora Indian tribes that once roamed North Carolina by the thousands.

Earlier this month, the Goldsboro watercolorist, who goes simply by his Indian name and no other, was honored for a painting reflective of that connection, receiving the 2006 Native American Heritage Poster Award from the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs and United Tribes of N.C.

The blue, green and purple piece features owl feathers -- a sacred symbol, he said.

"When we pray, our prayers are taken from Earth to the eagles by the owl," Dreamweaver said. "So, in order to pray, we need the owl. Here are his feathers."

It was close to 15 years ago, after mastering oil and acrylic painting, that he decided to dabble in watercolor, he said. It was just another way to better understand his past.

"This is a medium that my ancestors could have used -- water, paper and natural dyes," Dreamweaver said. "I use very traditional ideas and let them influence my artwork."

The winning painting, along with others from his collection, are currently on display at Plum Tree Gardens Bed and Breakfast on George Street.

Saturday, they will travel with their creator to Raleigh, for a showing at the N.C. Museum of History.

"People say I'm sort of the catalyst in North Carolina behind contemporary American Indian art," he said. "When I first came back from California, they didn't want me to show my work. It wasn't Indian enough."

Many of his paintings rely on symbolic colors -- not historic images -- to teach those who view them about American Indians. Before the award-winner was completed, he focused on red.

"The red pieces represented the red face," he said. "That was the beginning."

The green, purple and blue used in "The Protectors" represent the three layers of the world.

More than 3,000 prints of Dreamweaver's piece have been dispersed to every county in the state. The painting also will appear on this month's official Native American Heritage poster.

But the award means little when compared to his inspiration, he said.

"At one time, there were thousands of Tuscarora living in Wayne County," Dreamweaver said. "That's what it is all about -- remembering the ancestors."

He doesn't only paint to remember. In fact, dressed in a homemade regalia, moccasins, spirit bag and feather earrings, he's a walking tribute to his past.

Maybe that's why he can visualize a painting before taking his seat -- the spirits are guiding him.

"When I do a painting, it's just a feeling," Dreamweaver said. "It's just an instantaneous thing. When I sit down I can already see. So, I've actually seen that piece before even sit down."