Tracy Thomas: Onondaga Nation, near Syracuse NY
From the time he was a child, Tracy Thomas knew he was gifted. Despite being born with a congenital hand difference, he has become an accomplished visual artist, illustrator and woodcarver known across the territory.
An art teacher encouraged Thomas to pursue art in high school, placing him in advanced classes along the way. This gave Thomas the opportunity to develop what he feels is his purpose in life. “I believe that the Creator has given every one of us a gift, and that somehow later on in life it is our responsibility to develop that gift. It doesn’t matter what it is; music, art, singing, dancing, you name it! Some people have a couple talents. Even though I was born without fingers on my hands, that didn’t hinder me from doing any art.”
Thomas was born with two partial fingers on his left hand and none on the right. For a time he tried wearing a hook. “I didn’t like it. It was in my way, and I thought that if i ever got mad at somebody i might hit them with it and hurt them. I was so used to doing things on my own and adapting, that the hook became an inconvenience to me.”
At Syracuse Univeristy, Thomas studied art and learned he excelled at pointilism art. “I put both of my hands together. I’m very patient and very steady.” he shares. His determination and a love for detail helped him master loom beadwork as well.
This summer Thomas was given the opportunity to decorate the wood dugout canoe used in the Two Row Renewal Campaign. He used a combination of carving and wood burning. “I had to do it differently because most people are using a hammer and chisel. I use an old Indian trick: a Dremmel!” Through this electric drill, Thomas uses pointillism with small strokes and his detailed carvings are becoming popular collector’s items among fans of Indigenous art. He also created a commemorative painting of the Two Row Renewal campaign, earning him the blue ribbon at the State Fair earlier this month.
This coming weekend, Thomas will gather with thousands expected at the Skanonh Centre-Great Law of Peace Centre in Liverpool, NY at Onondaga Lake for the Haudenosaune Wooden Lacrosse Stick Expo ’13. The two day event features exhibition games, wooden lacrosse stick making demos, and lacrosse clinics with the Iroquois Nationals. There is also the promise of good food, craft vendors and Haudenosaune social dancing. Thomas is the Arts & Culture Co-ordinator for the craft market part of this event.
Anyone wishing to attend the event can get more information from the Skanonh Centre website at www.skanonhcenter.org or call (315) 428-1864.