Thomas Breeze Marcus

Tribal Territory

Acrylic on canvas, 36"h x 36"w, Item No. 15430,

The piece titled “Tribal Territory” consists of symbols and influences from different cultures which are brought together to touch on the nature of human tribalism, survival, violence, respect, protection and consequence.

Throughout human history there has always been tribes. The psychological need to belong to something is a mixture of safety, survival and sickness.  Safety in numbers and trust, structure and  protection is a way to ensure a tribe, neighborhood, community, city, country, and or culture’s survival.  The sickness is when hatred and the false idea of dominance  is poured into the intention to control others not of the same “tribe”.

In the piece Tribal Territory there are the graffiti letters W, N, E and S which represent the not only the four directions but separation and sides.  In gang culture, which is a form of tribalism, there is always turmoil over land area.  As in history, this is the same for countries and the control for land and to establish the same ideas of placement whether through the simple intentions to survive, or the insecurities of the ego to control.

The letters C/S stand for Con Safos, and in Inner City culture is a symbol of protection and respect.  It's usually written at the bottom of a piece of graffiti that has people's names written out in a roll call. It's literal translation is “With Safety”.  In this piece its placed directly in the middle of the painting and ties the opposing sides of North, East, South and West together because the one thing we all have in common is we hope for protection and pray in our own ways that nothing happens to us, our families, or our communities.

The clouds in the painting are influenced by Japanese Samurai art, and historically would be etched, carved, cut or drawn onto outfits which represented the Japanese Dragon coming with the clouds of smoke. The meaning of the clouds in this piece is war.  The consequences of war are never good.

The our edge of the painting are the dragonflies. The dragonflies are balance to the chaos of the clouds and directional graffiti. The calmness of dragonflies flying and almost dancing above a water source such as a river or lake. The dragonflies are representing the peace that is far away from human turmoil.

The line work ties everything together. It goes back to our teachings as indigenous people and how all things are connected, not just human beings.  In the current days of rising racial tensions, the threat to ecosystems by man, climate change, gun violence, domestic violence, abuse, the threat of oppression, tyranny and (nuclear) wars etc. We can only hope and pray for peace and protection within our hearts, within our center of being and existence and for all those around us.