[Cultural Currents]

Debra Vincent

Whether it’s a turquoise sky turning into a copper forest or a white feather set against the red and yellow of the medicine wheel, Debra Vincent’s art is as full of life and colour as the artist herself. “I can’t imagine a black and white world,” she says, her brown eyes sparkling under purple hair.

“Colour to me is life. Colour invigorates me. Breath, life, vitality… that’s colour.” She runs a finger down the vibrant ribbons on her handmade shirt.

As an artist, she delicately glides between the world of meticulous line work and clear, bold, precision colour, which she applies with a magnifying glass by a bright light, carefully capturing intricate designs. At the same time her free-flowing acrylic paints send viewers falling into dazzling night skies, or a fire, a forest, the shawl of a fancy dancer breezing past – an invitation to a new interpretation with each look.

For Debra, being a Haudenosaunee woman and a member of the Bear Clan is a source of great pride. “My mom was always proud to be Bear Clan and that carries down,” she says. A bear pendant that belonged to her mother hangs around her neck. “Bears are the medicine people of the clans. They are the caregivers, healers; they look after people.” Bears, turtles and wolves frequently prowl through forests, walk across abstract atmospheres both celestial and grounded, or lie as intricate designs across her paintings and drawings. “I have great respect for our systems of clans and beliefs, our culture, and the importance of teaching others and of being proud of who we are as Mohawk people.”

Debra welcomes visitors to her studio on the Bay of Quinte.

Story by:
Shelby Lisk

[Spring 2022 departments]