Statements by U.S. Officials
DCM Douglas Silliman’s Remarks at the opening of Jno Didrickson Exhibit
February 17, 2009 / TAA, Ankara
DCM: I want to thank all of you for coming to the Turkish American Association this evening. We have a very, very interesting exhibit for you to look at which represents some of the richness of American art, something that you don’t probably see very often in Turkey. We have an artist also who is a little bit different than your average Native American artist, his name is Jno Didrickson, and he has been living in Turkey since 2001. He is married to a Turk, Ozgur. And the two of them are environmentalists and are two of the few bird ringers, people who tag birds to study migratory patterns in Turkey.
And it is actually this closeness with nature that really is the origin of Jno’s work that you can see around you. Typical Native American totemic artwork takes its themes from nature and mythology of the tribes that produce it. And what you’ll see in the art is representations of animals, representations of mythical beasts that are important to the culture of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. What is interesting also, is talking to Jno earlier about how he became an artist, and he said, he didn’t have a very good explanation. He said he grew up with this all around him. It was like swimming in the ocean and that there was no way that he could avoid doing this kind of artwork. When I really questioned him a bit about why he did this, he said when he was nine years old, his aunt gave him a knife and a piece of wood and he began to carve, and he’s been carving ever since. And what you’ll see around the room are some fantastic examples of his carving.
So without further ado, I want to welcome you all here, and also say this is the second time that the TAA and the American Embassy have exhibited Jno’s work. We hope this is only the second of many, many more times. We should all – Jno, if you could come up here for just a moment so everyone can see what the artist looks like. I don’t know if you have anything you’d like to say.
DCM: Like most good artists, he’ll let his art speak for itself. If you’re lucky enough you might catch him and have him explain what it is you’re looking at. Anyway, thank you all for coming. We appreciate of TAA. And we look forward to many more exhibits like this. Please enjoy the exhibit.