“My first influence is my father, John Kahionhes Fadden. He has illustrated over 50 books and his work has appeared in several publications. He also taught grade 7 and 8 art for 32 years. At a very young age I would watch him paint or draw and from time to time ask him questions about what he was painting. Inspired, I would use my crayons and draw on the walls of the house. My father then gave me a sketch pad and pencil. That’s how I started.
Growing up in a traditional Mohawk household (one of six Native nations of the Iroquois Confederacy) , I was taught from the beginning to respect all living creatures and to view everything as living and having a spirit. I try to reflect this notion in my paintings. Our ceremonies offer thanks and appreciation to all the things that give us life. This appreciation for lifegiving entities is expressed through ancient prayers, songs and dances. I, in my own way, try to express this feeling though my art.
As I developed my skills, I painted what was around me. Animals, the Adirondack mountains and Mohawk people became my most frequent subjects to draw and paint. During the past few years, I have focused my attention on paintng the face and human anatomy. I use photographs as reference when I paint. The people I paint are not portraits but, rather imaginary portraits. I use photos that I take to refer to light sources and color. Most native imagery reflect a common stereotype of the fierce warrior or stoic indian looking off into the sunset. In contrast, I try to dispel this false portrayal by painting native people as people who like to laugh and show other emotions.
Some of my influences are painters such as Richard Schmidt, Andrew Wyeth and illustrator Norman Rockwell. A trip to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art resulted in a revelation for me. While I was admiring a small portrait of Benjamin Frankliin I suddenly realized that how it was done. I hurried home to try out what I learned. My ability improved. I experimented with different light sources and colors. I’m due for another trip to the museum.”