The Bear Portraits
The series began in 1984 when my seven-year-old son Bear and I were walking down Queen Street in Toronto. I noticed some graffiti on a brick wall we had just walked by, and decided to take a photograph of Bear in front of it as a memento portrait for him. The baseball cap Bear is wearing has a reproduction of Edward Curtis’s portrait of Two Moons, a respected Cheyenne leader who fought and defeated Custer at the battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25th, 1876. I was struck by the confluence of the image on the hat and the graffiti on the wall behind Bear—“Culture Revolution.”
When I saw the print, I saw myself as a young boy and remembered the fractured relationship I had with my father. This series explores the loss of male role models by using Bear as a marker of Indian-ness in sites where it does not exist. The first Bear Portrait set in motion a new way of looking at the city and, like the graffiti, my revolution was against the invisible urban Iroquois presence.
View the other Portfolios from this series: