A local First Nations artist is starting on a new path after struggling with alcohol addiction that began when he was just 13 years old, spending time in jail paying for past mistakes, learning about his culture and exploring art as a way to heal from his self destructive path.
Brad Cecil looks to the future as something that’s bright compared to his past that definitely had its darkness.
Cecil has been with fiance Marie Teichman for the last four years, struggling with homelessness to come out of those challenges after finding a stable place to live in May.
Now it’s time for the couple to continue their sober lifestyle, looking for a better way to live while Cecil further explores his artistic talent.
“Marie is one of the first people to ever tell me that I am a good person,” Cecil said.
“She has changed my life. I was on a self-destructive path. I left that bad person behind and really worked on myself when I went to jail to become the person I am now. I believe I am a good person now.”
Teichman has had her own personal struggles because of the trauma she experienced as a small child. She is a recovering drug addict that spent many years in homelessness and is proud of her sobriety and the stable life she has built with Cecil.
Cecil started doing art in high school but quickly moved away from it as things took a turn for the worse.
“That’s when I fell into my addictions and put my art down,” he explained. “I had started carving, painting, drawing and all that and then put it all down. I struggled with my addictions for nine years. When I was in jail that’s when I found my art again. That’s when I started picking up other techniques - like beading, making drums and drum sticks and rattles. The paintings started improving when I ended up in jail - sadly that’s where I learned my culture, which I am grateful for - it’s like a blessing too. If I didn’t end up in jail I wouldn’t be with Marie right now. I just want to live a happy life and not have people look at me like I’m a bad person.”
That’s why he’s put such a focus on his art right now.
“My art really helps me focus and I don’t think about my worries or my problems, I just think about what is in front of me and I draw, paint and it helps me stay calm and focused,” Cecil said. “It’s art therapy to me. It’s my therapy.”
Cecil is now getting some attention for his artwork on social media.
“For me it’s really appreciated because it shows someone is acknowledging us, especially as Natives,” Marie said. “No one knows our struggle, no one ever asks about our lives.”
For Cecil is was a shock to get that positive feedback.
“Yeah I did put my artwork out there but it’s the first time my artwork has been acknowledged like that and someone has appreciated it,” Cecil said. “That means a lot.”
During their most recent experience of homelessness they had to leave behind all the art supplies they had collected over the years.
“We could only take what we could carry,” Cecil explained. “And that wasn’t much.”
The pair has no means to purchase a lot of art supplies at this time which means they can’t showcase Cecil’s artwork on a grand scale so custom orders are what Cecil specializes in right now.
“We need to save up to buy more art supplies for Brad to be able to make enough to display it,” Teichman said.
“What I really need right now is more art supplies so I can make more art to put it on display because I can’t really do that right now,” Cecil said. “All I have right now is paints so that’s what my orders are for. So right now I have to tell Marie not to post on Facebook that I do beadwork because I don’t have the materials to create anything. For now it’s just paintings and once I can earn enough I will get more material.”
To reach out for more information about Cecil’s custom artwork call 236-550-7246.