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Selective Focus: Bowwow Powwow

On Wednesday, June 27, there is a book release event for “Bow Wow Pow Wow” illustrated by Duluth artist Jonathan Thunder, written by Brenda Child, professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota, and translated to Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain, who teaches at the Misaabekong Ojibwe Language Immersion program for Duluth Public Schools.

The children’s story centers on Windy Girl, who takes the revelry of the Pow Wow experience one step farther, into a dreamworld where the dancers and singers are dogs. She gathers stories of traditions, about dances and sharing and gratitude.

Jonathan Thunder (featured previously) says this was a big project and a new challenge for him. The artwork is a hybrid of physical and digital, starting as pencil sketches, scanned and worked on with an iPad and drawing software, and finished in Photoshop. Thunder says he also scanned in materials like canvas to mix in to the artwork in Photoshop and give it additional texture.

The book was coordinated by the Minnesota Historical Society, and the story is told in both English and Ojibwe. Author Brenda Child hopes that the book can be a teaching aid for schools teaching Ojibwe language and culture.

Thunder says the Minnesota Historical Society reached out to him as a good candidate for the project after Child submitted her manuscript and people familiar with his work suggested him as the illustrator. He was asked to submit a piece of art as a sample, and after being chosen, Thunder said the project took about seven months for him to complete between the book work and fitting it in with his other work. The time for each painting was about four days beginning to end.

At the book release next week at AICHO, there will be book readings, Q&A with the author, artist and translator, and a puppet activity using some of the art and characters from the book.

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