Art, Life and Resilience
By reading various interviews and articles about Eric Schweig, published since the early 1990s, and by combining information gleaned here and there, a fascinating journey takes shape before our eyes. Without ever really reveal details of his private life, Eric Schweig has generously shared with the public his thoughts and feelings about some key moments of his obstacle course.
This moving testimony shows the pursuit of a resilient spirit in search of its identity, and in search of some meaning to traumatic events of the past. This journey (which the artist puts forth as much as his achievements), thus acquires a very special resonance. Embedded in success and popularity, the life, art, acting and outreach work of Eric Schweig highlight some crucial issues about First Nations and youth in Canada: adoption, uprooting, double standard justice, assimilation, violence against children, homeless, drug and alcohol abuse, condescension and indifference about First Nations cultures and values.
This life of an artist can creates the same effect as a work of art: it is a very personal and individual experience that carries a universal message. Other exemples of artists’ lives so closely related to their arts with the same kind of resonance: The life and films of Russian director Andreï Tarkovsky, the life and paintings of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, the lives and books of English writers Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë… Their arts, and their lives, were all haunted by a violent rupture in childhood, just like Eric Schweig’s masks, acting and life.
In one of her book, Allison Lurie explain how this haunting occurs: when a childhood ends too soon and abruptly (violence, incest, adoption, death of a parent, foster care, war, etc.), a portion of itself did not leave the child gently and naturally, but instead is violently pushed to hide inside. This part of childhood is thereby forever preserved unchanged. It can stay there forever. But in the case of artists, this hidden inner child is always looking to express himself through artworks. We then see appears, in these creations and artists’lives, a characteristic combination of innocence, magnetic personality, fragility, idealism, deep sensitivity, depth, sadness, mystery, rebellion, love and fierce independence of mind. In light of the information currently available about Eric Schweig, I think it’s safe to say that these qualities describe him particularly well.