Paintings by local artist Jannette Parent, highlighting the language and touching on the traditions of the Cherokee culture, is on display now in the George Coon Public Library auditorium.
Library Director Nichelle Faughn said the collection of paintings will be up through February at the library, located on South Harrison and Washington streets.
“Anytme there's not something major going on in here, I like to have a rotation of different local artists' work,” Faughn said Wednesday.
The Parent collection features paintings dating from 2005 to more recent works, all with a common theme — each features a word or phrase from the Cherokee language with a corresponding illustration.
The series began, Parent noted in her artist statement, when she began taking Cherokee language classes in Marion in 2005.
“I knew I was of Cherokee Indian descent and wanted to learn more about this part of my ancestry,” she wrote. “Little did I know it would change my artistic path forever. In my first lesson, it became clear to me that I would somehow use this language in my art.”
The language, or syllabary, is made up of 85 letter characters, each of which represents a unique sound. Parent said she began the series by simply naming what was portrayed in each painting, but now the project is aimed at telling a story and passing on the Cherokee culture, mythology and history.
“By no means am I an expert in the Cherokee language or its history, nor will I ever be,” she noted. “I am simply an artist exploring the imagery the language inspires. I want to share what I have learned and hopefully inspire others to not let this beautiful language die.”
The exhibit features not only animals and plants familiar to the Cherokee throughout history, but also more exotic and new subjects, from elephants to stop signs.
“This series of paintings is not only about ancient times and stories of the Cherokee prior to (the) white man's arrival,” Parent observed. “We need to be reminded that the Cherokee language is a living language, with modern words. People still speak it and use it daily.”
Many of the pieces on display at the library exhibit are also available for sale. Parent's contact information is available on-site accompanying the exhibit, for those interested in acquisitions or commissions.