James Ayers

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Two Souls, One Spirit

by James Ayers

Edition Size: 250

Lakota Tribe

More About Two Souls, One Spirit
Two Lakota lovers take a private moment for themselves in Two Souls, One Spirit. As the warrior wraps his beloved in a warm buffalo robe, he reveals his deep devotion and unending fidelity with this seemingly small gesture. I chose to depict their affection to one another with the robe because such garments represented warmth, security, and comfort to the Lakota people (who relied heavily on the buffalo for sustenance). This gentle act adds another layer of meaning to the intimate exchange.
How the composition creates drama -
Notice how the dark-against-light colors causes an angle to form across the faces of the man and the woman and highlights their contented expressions. I use curved angles throughout the piece to create a softness appropriate to the scene. There are soft, angled curves in the crook of the man’s arm and in the drape of the buffalo robe. These shapes both draw your eye to the faces of the couple and give the painting a tranquil feel. The background, too, adds to the serene air with the muted shades of grey…but notice the splashes of red tones to add a touch of passion to the composition to emphasize the bonding these two people share. Notice how the man and woman’s clothing are complementary colors--their outfits are on opposite ends of the color wheel. These tones, together, make a stronger impression than either would alone (like the man and woman themselves).
Historic details
Both the man and the woman are dressed in c. mid- to late-1800s ceremonial garments, resplendent with intricate beading. The woman holds a feather fan – used for purifying smoke “smudging” ceremonies – made of red-tail hawk feathers. She also has a beaded knife sheath. (Notice how the fan and the sheath form zig-zag angles to pull your eye through the painting.) The man’s shirt came directly from a museum catalog in my research library. The garment is decorated with locks of hair. These hairlocks were not taken from foes in battle, but instead would be gathered from family members as a reminder of the people a warrior protects. His hair is adorned with feathers: the red ones are dyed eagle feathers and the black ones are crow.