Put yourself in the artists moccasins, if you will. Meet Sauts in your minds eye with heart sight. Visit his spirit through life highlights. You have his moccasins on now. You are stepping into his spirit
You enter the world of Lenape (Lay na pe) ancestry. Yet, you are of mixed blood so you are never to be fully accepted by any part of your multi-ancestor world. You carry the richness of both. You see and hear visions from an early age. You begin drawing on brown paper bags at age four. A teacher who is amazed by its likeness to Twain gobbles up your first drawing of Mark Twain at age 9 for $15.
You are told that you are too young to be that good. So enters the kind of judgement that is so often the drama of a gifted child. Your talent is truly innate. You draw lighted cigarettes on paper and lay them on student armchairs to see them jump in fright as they think theyve been set on fire.
You turn to friends called books. Piled into boxes and hauled off to the woods they are studied repeatedly. These 'friends' are named philosophy, religion, art, mythology and history. You also thrive on each piece of retrievable Lenape history that you can acquire by research or happenstance.
Upon leaving Art School, you face the Vietnam draft. A local pastor asks you if you want to be a live artist or a dead soldier. You wind up in a Lutheran Seminary. You feel at home. All of the 'old friends' read in the woods are now texts which are more like intimates than imposed learning. You excel. You walk out of exams early, to the consternation of fellow seminarians.
Before long you have a Masters of Theology degree. You are assigned to a congregation. High hopes soon dissolve. Storm clouds are on the horizon. There are parishioners who will not abide your reflections of Native culture as part of your pastoral duty. Protruding Moccasins underneath vestments are too much for the faint-of-heart.
Despite ancestor appropriate slight body hair, you manage to grow a traditional Lenape hair adornment. Thats the last straw. Youve gone too far. Out with you and your call.
Printing technology was in rapid transition. The publishing world in general was in crisis. The classical field for which you were educated was eclipsed in a decade.
You raise two children over these trying years. You hold on as best that you can. You have an ominous inner sense of lost horizons. Society seems to be going one way and you another.
Seeking solace in your roots, you paint the ceilings, doors, woodwork and any other available surface to give your children an experience of their ancestors. You feel drawn to recreate the largely lost cosmology of the Lenni Lenape Nation.
Spirit meets you somewhere in your world of pigment, palette, brush and Mystery. The Lenape Messiah hero Nanapush leaps almost magically onto the fine Italian paper in front of you. This cosmological icon leads you deeper and deeper into Lenapetime.
The years pass with ups and downs. Divorce visits itself upon you. Your children grow up. They leave. You are very much alone. Art sustains you, but largely apart from the world. You are not met to be alone. Involuntary simplicity becomes a way of life. Fine artists are not in great demand. During their lifetimes, few artists find ways to promote their art into financial security. You recluse yourself.
The shadows of prejudice are not wiped clean by talentno matter how great. 1491 is your token symbol of resistance to the advent of evil that set upon Native Americans from the time Columbus stimulated European lust for the Americas.
You begin to understand the Japanese artists of the Great Period who used to change their names several times in the course of their lives as they wanted to safeguard their freedom. You change your signature several times, but freedom seems to come only within art itself.
Art demands all that you can be. You see art as prophecy, sacred icons, and revolutionary images. You are learning that even a born artist can hardly bear the labor of living art.
You see so many living lies in the world. Societal rationalizations continue to discount the arts. Yet, you have a spark in your heart that will not be extinguished. The Native versus Christian conflict contained a hidden blessing. It proves to be a special aperture to God the Mystery--Transcendent of dogma and accessible through mystical visionary art.
An intimate companion, later to become spouse; and, another true friend arrive to make nights, days and communiqués full of increasing joy and hope and inspiration. Security remains illusion and seems not so important in the light of fellow travelers now at home and far away.
Your genius shines in new depths. You expand your limits into what Kant call geniusthe talent to discover that which cannot be taught or learned. Now, when you are asked what you do or who you are, you reply, "Art is not something that I do, it is all that I am."
In the words of one of your heroes, William Blake, "On what wind dare he aspire. What the hand dare seize the fire? And what shoulder and what art could twist the sinews of thy heart? Did he who make the Lamb make thee?"
William Sauts Netamuxwe Bock, He Who Walks In The Lead. 1491