An established Mi’kmaq artist, Alan Syliboy’s work is influenced by the indigenous Mi'kmaq rock drawing and quill weaving traditions. Working in acrylic and mixed media, Alan creates vibrantly coloured images exploring the themes of family, searching, spirituality, struggle, and strength. The use of layering symbols and mark making creates depth and texture in Alan’s work. “Like many others in my generation, I grew up believing that Native art was generic - what you see on TV and in other mass media. Visual expressions are part of what makes a culture unique, and, although Mi'kmaq designs are similar to other North American woodland tribes, you can easily recognize the difference. I looked to the indigenous Mi'kmaq petroglyph tradition for inspiration and developed my own artistic vocabulary out of those forms.
This purely Mi'kmaq vocabulary has allowed my brush and pen to lead me to images of family, ‘memory portraits’ of my relatives, and the creation of new faces in the flow of constellations and galaxies. I celebrate the past, present, and future of strong family ties in a series of spritely images that suggest the fantasies of Klee and Miro, but whose artistic roots are firmly twined around the rocks found in the ancient grounds of Nova Scotia.”
It has been a busy year for Alan Syliboy. Alan was invited to participate in the cultural Olympiad at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, BC. The resulting twelve panels, entitled People of the Dawn
, is a visual journal of the Mi’kmaq people in their traditional environment. The mural was flown to Vancouver in July 2009 to be permanently installed in the Trout Lake Community Centre, which was used for figure skating training sessions during the Winter Games. More recently, Alan presented a painting to Queen Elizabeth II of England during the Grand Chief Membertou Celebrations in Halifax in June 2010.
Recently, Alan created an animated short, “Little Thunder”, which was also displayed at the Winter Games and the Giffoni Film Festival
in Italy in July 2010. Besides painting, Alan also works in sculpture and pottery.