Native American Totems In Art By Kirby Sattler

Sometimes we find Native American totems in art. I was recently drawn to the art of Kirby Sattler when Johnny Depp stated that he got his idea for his portrayal of Tonto in the new Lone Ranger Movie from the artwork of Mr. Sattler. I would like to share something about Kirby Sattler and his Native American Art with you today.

The very first thing that came to my mind when I visited his website was his use of totems in most, if not all, of the paintings. Sometimes it is a subtle representation of the totem that most guides the subject of the painting and other times it is obvious which animal spirit gives meaning to the person depicted.


Standing I Fly

The image above is one that Kirby Sattler gave me permission to use in this post as an example of his work. In this painting we see a subtle representation of the totem that guides this wonderful man in his journey on the good red road. Notice the bird symbols on each side of his shirt? I would imagine that they represent Crow as Mr. Sattler uses crow a lot in his paintings. Although they could be Ravens or even a Thunderbird.

I love the detail that is found in each and every painting of Kirby Sattler! The weathered look of the skin, the sometimes soulful eyes, and the use of face paint. We have talked before about the importance of the paint and what it told about the person to his family and members of his tribe. Mr. Sattler gets it.

Kirby Sattler does not have any roots with a specific tribal tradition nor does he claim any tribal connection with the subjects that he paints. He uses his imagination and long time interest in Native Americans to create his remarkable work. Here’s the thing, he understands the metaphysical connection and importance of the animal spirits that guide us on our own journeys and makes that a part of his art.

I remember reading a comment when Disney first released a picture of Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in character for the movie. Someone indignantly made the comment that “no self-respecting Native” would dress like that. Well, maybe not today, but I believe that our ancestors would have. And most of the paintings or photographs that we have as reference today were done by non-Natives who did not see the importance of a totem animal in the daily life of the First Americans so they were left out. Kirby Sattler understands it and incorporates it in his work. Each image that I looked at on his website touched me spiritually and I believe they will you, too.

It is my sincere wish that you will visit Kirby Sattler on his website of fine art. I know you will not be dissapointed! I would also like to thank him publicly for so graciously allowing me to use one of his images here on my blog.

~Mitakuye Oyasin~ We are all related

Crochet And My Native American Totems

Sometimes when I am contemplating the medicines to be learned by my own Native American Totems, I will work on a craft that will help me reflect on what I am supposed to learn. Recently, the craft of choice was crochet. I really had a difficult time finding a crochet pattern that I thought represented even a somewhat Native American theme. I have been crocheting for several decades now; so, I designed my own crochet pattern for an afghan to have in our home.

I decided to create a pattern that honored the Medicine Wheel by using colors found in the wheel and by separating them with a complimentary color that represents Father Sky where the winds of direction blow.

You might be thinking what does crocheting an afghan have to do with totems, Bev? Well, remember that a totem is the spirit of an animal, mineral, plant, or living part of Mother Earth that works with us to give us medicine or a lesson about life. It is not enough to come to realize that a totem or spirit is working with you. Once you realize that you have lessons to learn and areas to work on in your life, you need to work with the spirit and reflect on what it is you can work on to be a better person.

One of my totems is telling me to take it easy or relax more and not work so hard. One of the ways for me to relax is to crochet. It is very therapeutic for me, personally. I enjoy creating something from nothing and while crocheting I usually ponder some of those thoughts that are crowding my sub-conscious.  After I designed the pattern for the Medicine Wheel Ripple Afghan and started to work the design with the yarn, I found myself meditating on the directions of the Medicine Wheel and what we learn or the medicine we receive from each. It was a way for me to clarify and comprehend some paths that I need to walk on.

Crocheting may not be your cup of tea and that is OK. What I am suggesting to you is to recognize a totem that is walking with you right now and then think of an activity that you can do that will allow you to meditate on the medicine it is trying to give you. I think you will find that you will be more at ease with your inner being if you do.

~Mitakuye Oyasin~ We are all related