Artists’ statements

“When I paint I do it as much for other people as myself, I hope that my paintings can be a sense of strength for our people. I try to reach into the distant past when we were strong people, and find ways to express that strength for people today. I do not start a painting until I have felt what it will mean. If we can locate strength from the past, we can overcome the problems of the present. I hope my paintings can suggest a path to the future.”
“The book “Friends United” is an empowering visual experience for all of the readers and Native artists involved. Rolf Bouman’s insight into Native arts and artists has sent this book into prestigious heights. For all those who assisted in contributing to this beautiful book, thank you.”
David J. Brooks
In a series of fortunate events, I met Rolf at an art show in Toronto late 2017.  I had several pieces of my artwork and he purchased them from me almost immediately.  He was kind and fair and respectful and a professional person to deal with.
 I used the proceeds of the sale to pay for work on an educational board game I developed about Truth and Reconciliation, a game that is slowly working its way into schools all across Canada.
 In a way, you can say that Rolf has had a pivotal role in bringing this game and the process of truth telling to Canadians.
Miigwetch, Miigwetch, Miigwetch, Miigwetch!
James Darin Corbier
I am very honoured to be a part of the Friends United Artist Co-operative which helps me do what I love for a living. It’s very good for yourself as an artist to have a firm believer in your craft and that’s the way that Rolf supports us. With all of the things he does for us, it gives us a great sense of worth and drive to produce the best possible work. I was able to purchase the best paint that I could find which lead to me produce much better art. They have also supplied me with paint as well so I could feel free in what I do. The limited edition prints that Rolf also produces for us artists is a great asset to us accessing a much wider audience of the art community. These things have been completely essential to where I have come thus far with my art. I see how far all of artists could reach in the future by having someone who truly believes in us and our work.
I see so much good coming from this and hope that this great project will go forward in a good way. It is a very good thing to bring more beauty into this world. That is exactly what is being accomplished here with Friends United. To have a great supporter such as Rolf is exactly what we artists need to accomplish our goal of bringing more color and beauty into this world.
Brent Hardisty
“I have been able to use the money I made for supplies.”
“With the prints from Rolf, I can sell my work and still have a picture of it. Before when I sold something, I’d never see it again.”
Darren Julian
“Dear Rolf, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting, believing in me and encouraging me in continuing to make my quill boxes. Before I met you, I had stopped making quill boxes, because people did not pay me fairly and sometimes not at all for my work. I am the last of a group of twelve to practice the art of quill box making in Nova Scotia and now I have the opportunity to even teach this art to other young Native people, so that this important tradition is passed on. ”
“Since I began with the Friends United project, I have been able to support my family and make a good living out of selling my baskets to you. This project has also helped my son Darren and my daughter in-law Mandy out so much. I am so proud that they are painting so successfully for the Friends United project. ”
“When I walk into the Friends United Convention Centre and I see my work on display, it makes me feel so proud of our people, our arts and crafts and it gives me hope that more and more people will grow to appreciate our culture and art. ”
“I feel honoured that also people like the Former National Chief Phil Fontaine know about the project, endorse it and I was especially honoured to be interviewed by German TV during the filming of the documentary at the Friends United Convention Centre. I had the opportunity to talk about my baskets and explain the process of making them. I am happy to hear that, people as far as Germany will be able to see me making my baskets. The exposure is great and I thank you for making this possible and helping my family so much.”
Sandra Simon
Speaking on behalf Jay Bell Redbird and myself, Friends United not only unites friends but creative, innovative and progressive minds with passionate hearts. It is a gathering place where artists and creative spirits are able to express their talents, tell their stories, share experiences, teach and educate. It is a gathering place where they can not only be inspired and encouraged but generously assisted in their authentic expressions, whether it is by providing art supplies or spaces to work and exhibit or collecting and appreciating their work and involving them in a conversation. Being connected to Friends United means new possibilities to be the best we can and further contribute to the whole. We are dreamers and our vision includes a better World with Peace, Beauty, Freedom and Respect for each other, Nature and World around us.
Thank you Friends United
Jay Bell Redbird and Halina Stopyra
Halina Stopyra – Jay Bell Redbird
“Above all, I would like to thank Jay Bell Redbird and his father Duke Redbird for the instruction and guidance they have provided in the art of the native medicine and for showing me the ways of our ancestors – the first nations.
I am honoured and proud to be part of Friends United. It is a place of love and respect and of beauty and inspiration, which allow one to grow and develop professionally as well as artistically. It makes for a very enriching experience and I am happy to know that my art is shown there along with the art of many other talented artists.
I would also like to thank Rolf Bouman for his vision, his help and his confidence in me. Rolf Bouman has changed my life so that now I can look forward to my future with trust and assurance. For that, I am very much grateful to him.
Friends United should, one day, become a place of pilgrimage and be open to the public as a museum.”
Mindy Eva Ouellet
I am really happy to be a part of Friends United and appreciate all they’ve done for the native artists. Thank you so much. 🙂
Jonathon Simon
Jonathon G. Simon
Gerry Sheena
Gerry Sheena
Jasyn Lucas - Artist Friends United
Growing up as an urban indigenous survivor of the sixties scoop, I struggled with, and continue to struggle with, identity. As a child and young man, I was constantly wondering, “Am I brown enough? Am I acting white enough?”  It would be my art that would show me the answer, and reveal the identity I was later relieved to accept.  Finally, I realized that my art held all the clues of a contemporary concept of urban indigenousness and the struggle for identity. My paintings have become the most effective and universal language of my ways of knowing, which may look different to what one may assume.
My name is Jasyn Lucas. I was born Jason Bighetty.  I am a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation. I am a sixties scoop survivor and have spent my lifetime dedicated to painting the daydreams and dreams that the universe has provided. My spirit name is ‘Northern Lights Turtle Man’, and ‘Standing Buffalo Man’. I have two spirit names and my art carries a message that I have always had, but has become more-clear, the older I get. As an Indigenous person who grew up separate from his culture and traditions, I have struggled with identity, however my creative process has always seemed to address five major principles of design that also support the teachings of the medicine wheels 4 directions, and the ways of knowing, and the balance of spiritual, mental, physical and emotional well-being. It’s always the landscapes and animals that I use to remind us of the delicate ecosystems we need to improve to serve.
My paintings are those elements and are my medicine. Because I live with them every-day, I aim for my paintings to be like a breath of fresh air, that I want to be stress-free and wonderful to view. I want them to be bright and absurd with colour and motion. Expressive, but disciplined and invested. I want them to be therapeutic and medicine for the viewer as well. To ultimately seduce the viewer into engaging visually within the painting itself and its visual elements and its vibrations. Often I feel we as a society can forget that the walls that separate us from the outside world are just that, “walls”. And I want to paint the electric energy, the frequencies, and molecules in between the viewer and the natural element s they see. A reminder of their connectedness to every living being.
I want a metamorphosis of opposites, but complimentary applications from expressionism, realism of nature forms, surreal graphic pushes and pulls between 2-dimensional and 3-dimesional elements. I want to insist the viewer to claim the space within the frequencies and layers of dripping element of colour of vibration that the dripping colour. A synthesis of tradition and technology, where expressive hand-painted techniques meet the rhythmic but highly controlled essence of airbrush techniques. This is a direct reflection of the urban Indian that I have embraced. It is visual presence is subtly hold’s clues of my artistic contemporary identity of urban indigenousness.
Jasyn Lucas