Kevin Peeace’s “The Spirit Within,” a Beautiful New Cover for The Crooked Good.

Kevin Peeace’s original artwork for the new cover of Louise B. Halfe’s The Crooked Good, third edition.

Kegedonce Press has had the very great honour of publishing brand-new editions of two of Louise Bernice Halfe’s classic, award-winning poetry collections. Blue Marrow was released earlier this year, with beautiful new cover art by Leah Dorion.

When it came time to design the cover for the third edition of The Crooked Good, Louise reached out to Saskatchewan-based artist Kevin Peeace, a member of the Yellowquill and Peter Chapman First Nations. He is especially known for his striking, colourful mural projects appearing in schools, churches, and other public spaces.

Like the majority of his works, his painting, “The Spirit Within” emphasizes the significance of family, making it a beautifully apt cover for The Crooked Good, which follows the story of of ê-kwêskît, Turn-Around Woman, and her family, a story framed by the legend of Rolling Head Woman.

With the release of The Crooked Good and its online launch, Kegedonce Press reached out to Kevin Peeace, to chat with him about the painting and his art. Here is that interview:

Kegedonce Press: Can you tell us a little bit about the piece, “The Spirit Within”? What does it depict? What were your influences? Is there a story behind the painting?

Kevin Peeace: “The Spirit Within” speaks about the inherent spirit that dwells in all life forms within our world. Whether it’s humans, animals, rocks and trees, there is a spirit that inhabits each. The animals of our world are spirits that are bound to that form, they exist to procreate and survive much the same as people, with a big difference. The same can be said of the rocks that have lived for millions of years, and also of the trees and plants that provide much for the humans to sustain themselves. It’s only now that we are beginning to understand what the rocks have to say and what the trees have to tell us. Everything in this world has helped humans get to where we are today yet we have turned a blind-eye to the destruction we are causing, out selfishness has driven us out of their favour. They no longer talk to us as in the days of old, the animals fear us, the trees and plants do not give us their secrets anymore and the rocks have closed themselves within, we as mankind have lost the knowledge to be a part of this world, to be harmonious with our brethren spirits of this world.

Kegedonce Press: Is your artwork grounded in a specific culture, language, nation? 

Kevin Peeace: The artwork is a combination of two cultures; Cree and Saulteaux. I pay homage to my family and its culture through my work. It is meant to give hope, the beauty of our First Nations is displayed in the vibrant colours. Family is everything! The children holding up the stars represents them striving to reach their dreams and goals.

Kegedonce Press: Can you tell us a little about your process? Where do you begin with a new painting?

Kevin Peeace: The creative process begins in the mind, in the studio. Sometimes it’s drawn from some memory long ago, or the sound of voices long since passed. It begins when I see my children, looking at them and trying to find a way, a path to create something beautiful. Inspiration is all around us, we just have to close our eyes and listen with our mind.

Kegedonce Press: What is the most important thing you have learned through creating your artwork?

Kevin Peeace: I am a product of the residential school system, much has been stripped of me. My identity, language and culture has long vanished. The person I am today is a tiny sliver of all that is left from the original person that was born into this world. I grew without the love and attention that should’ve been given, I survived this world knowing that time and all its possibilities were moving forward, I knew that I had to build myself into a better person. Art was the perfect escape and its greatest strength was the gift I was given. It showered me with knowledge and beauty, it has shown me many things that is possible. I use it as fountain to draw my energy so that I can create, and most of all share it with others.

Kegedonce Press: What pieces are you working on now?

Kevin Peeace: I am currently working on multiple pieces for various clients and organizations throughout the country. For those that wish to contact me I can be reached through my website at www.kevinpeeace.com.

Kegedonce Press: What do you think of The Crooked Good and its use of your painting?

Kevin Peeace: I believe the book is genuine in its scope, the written word has the same abilities as the paints have to paintings. The symbolism is key to understanding the narrative and the creator. I only hope that the painting does the book justice in capturing its essence.

Thanks very much to Kevin for chatting with us!

You can see how “The Spirit Within” appears on the cover of The Crooked Good, here. Join us on Facebook for the official launch of the brand new, third edition of this classic poetry collection by Parliamentary Poet Laureate Louise B. Halfe – Sky Dancer.

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