An American artist/writer/jewellery designer currently living in the Netherlands. Zhaawano was born an army brat in 1959 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA. He goes by his traditional (spirit) name, Zhaawanogiizhik, or Zhaawano Giizhik, which is Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) for Southern White Cedar.
Zhaawano has Ojibwe Anishinaabe blood running through his veins; the doodem (clan) of his ancestors from Baawitigong (Sault Ste. Marie, Upper Michigan) is Waabizheshi or Marten clan.
Zhaawano, whose jewellery designs, written stories, and graphic design draw on the oral and pictorial traditions of his Ojibwqe ancestors, is an international artist who works in a Canadian art discipline, generally called the Native Woodland School of Art.
Zhaawano’s jewellery pieces are sold in several countries, as are his limited edition digi paintings, which are featured in collections around the world. As a graphic artist, Zhaawano also participates in international art shows: James Mishibinijima Simon, a prolific Native Woodland Art painter from Wikwemikong, Manitoulan Island in Canada, has recently introduced Zhaawano to the 2022 Bavaria/Munchen art show “In the Spirit of the Lynx”.
As a writer and Woodland artist expressing himself through jewellery making and graphic designs (Digi paintings), Zhaawano explores and conveys the inner meaning of the life forms that surround us, which means that his work reflects the reciprocal relationships between humans, the spirits, the supernatural, the plant world, and animals.
Zhaawano’s works of art are essentially storytelling mediums. The underlying motivation is always to translate his ancestors’ worldview into original jewellery designs and graphic art that can be universally appreciated. To him, the use of precious metals and stones and line drawings is just another evolution of how he can relate the ancient stories that have been passed on to many generations before him.
Sometimes the graphic, hieroglyphic-like line drawings he produces when creating his overlay jewellery and line art are drawn from personal dreams, and sometimes they express moods and feelings from his life; however, no matter how you look at it, all of his work owes a great deal, and is deeply indebted, to Ojibweg mazinaajimowinan: the mysterious picture drawings his distant ancestors depicted on river and lake bank cliffs and in birch bark scrolls.
In the past, Zhaawano has written several blogs about the history, art, and lifeways of his People and he plans to do many more for a long time to come.