Gordon Miller, Painter

I am a member of the Mattagami First Nation, a visual artist, and a writer of white and native descent, living and working in Oakville, Ontario. My native grandmothers married Hudson’s Bay fur traders from Orkney and England who, through hard work and determination, helped build this country during the days of the fur trade.

I have experienced part of my life as an invisible minority with an internal and unacknowledged otherness. I had been wandering and unknowingly seeking fulfillment and peace in my life. Since I embraced my multicultural roots, however, I have achieved a spiritual and cultural rebirth that is now reflected in my art and my writing.

In many ways this rebirth is akin to the turtle metaphor of Anishnawbe legend. According to native teachings, the Creator sent a flood to cleanse the earth. The survivors placed the recovered earth on the back of a turtle, which sacrificed its life to enable the rebuilding and rejuvenation of the world we live on today. The water metaphor plays a large role in both First Nations teachings and my approach to art. This embracing of my Native ancestry brought about a change in my career as a contemporary artist.

Visual metaphors play a critical role for artists in conveying themes and messages that are frequently culturally specific. Living in two cultures – that are at times conflicting – brings a wider perspective. Stories of rebirth that transcends cultural boundaries and provides an alternate perspective of a universal vision.