For TEDx Penticton, Lee Claremont will be combining two of her great loves, storytelling and image making.
The indigenous artist, of Mohawk and Irish descent, is famed for the intense colour palette she uses to create her images, and for TEDx, she will be intertwining some of those images with the creation story of the Mohawk people.
“There are several stories, like any creation story it does differ in different nations. That is going to go along with images of my painting, possibly some music,” said Claremont, adding that she will be sharing a compact version of the tale.
“The creation story told from the Mohawk people quite often takes days or hours,” she said. “Most of my art is about storytelling. It is not intentional; I don’t think in my mind that it is going to be this story or that story, but when I finish a painting — and sometimes it takes a little while looking at it — some kind of story does come out of it.
“It may not be literal, it maybe abstract, but it generally seems to have a story.”
Claremont hopes her paintings will make an impression, but also that the audience will gain a broader idea of the Mohawk people and their stories, acknowledging there isn’t many Mohawk living here, in the traditional territory of the Syilx people.
“There are people from different parts of the land, and we all have our own creation stories. We are not all the same,” said Claremont.
There are some things the cultures share, she added.
“I think there is a general awareness of storytelling and love of the land. That very much influences me. I probably know more about the Okanagan culture than my own, because I have lived here for well over 40 years,” said Claremont, explaining that the common respect for Mother Earth and the land works its way into her stories.
Claremont recently retired from teaching at the E’nowkin Centre, where she worked for 15 years.
“Being surrounded by all aboriginal people gave me great inspiration, and I love teaching. I have always thought you learn more from your students than you teach,” said Claremont. “It is a wonderful way to connect with my aboriginal culture.”
Giving a TEDx talk is going to be a new experience.
“I am very nervous, but I am really looking forward to it. It is something that I have never done,” said Claremont. “It’s always good to pick up a challenge here and there. Even though I am nervous, I am looking forward to it.”
TEDx Penticton takes place on Nov. 25, from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Cleland Theatre. Ticket information and a full list of presenters at tedxpenticton.ca. The Penticton Western News is proud to be a presenting sponsor of this event.
Read more on other TEDx Penticton presenters: