Jerry Sutton ... Cherokee Explorations
Traditions evolve. Rituals are forgotten. Languages adapt and disappear, but the land is eternal and is our primal connection to the Creator. The mountains, the prairies, the canyons and rivers of our earth are the pages on which our histories were written. Each bend in the river, each cliff face, each towering mountain or hidden valley has its own story and tells it to us in its unique voice. It is up to us to listen, to see ... and to remember.
I believe a primary reason the Removal and reservation experiences were so devastating to the many tribal peoples, was that by wrenching us from the lands of our ancestors it severed the links binding our collective traditions and severed us from the bones and the spirits of our ancestors. Yet, I am fifth generation removed from the Removals of 1838. In that time, new lands have been explored. New bones have been laid to rest. New stories have been told. I have been molded by this continued heritage.
All my life I have painted the natural world. It has been my cathedral, my exaltation, my meditation, my personal window for glimpsing the Eternal. The woodlands landscape and woodlands culture of the Cherokee people, current and historical, has been the template for my work, and is almost always a signature element, if not the focus, of my paintings.
Like many in our modern times, circumstances have taken me to diverse places, yet I always return to Cherokee country, drawn by a hunger to feel my roots tap deep into the land trod by my forebears. When I connect with the land, I am revived. It is this connection, this striving toward a continuing revival that drives my work.