ESCANABA - For Native American artist Ambrose Peshlakai, the future is carved in stone. A sculptor, Ambrose began showing his artwork through the Bay Area Arts Association's annual show. His work was not just noticed, but won high acclaim and a first-place ribbon. That marked a new starting point in Ambrose's life.
Formerly a substance abuse counselor and program manager at Hannahville's Nah Tah Wash PSA, Ambrose specializes in anti-substance abuse art. His art is not just an outlet for his creativity, but a voicepiece. Twenty-one years into his own recovery from alcohol abuse, Ambrose now focuses on the gift of art he shares with the world, and through which he promotes his own inner healing.
"I am whole now," said Ambrose, in reference to his physical and emotional health. "Now I have all of this passion in me for creating pieces that carry a message - a message about being true to yourself and not doing things to disrespect yourself."
Artist Ambrose Peshlakai works on a painting — one of his many artistic talents.
An eagle sculpture lords over the books at Escanaba Public Library’s Children’s Library. Peshlakai donated the piece for permanent display.
Escanaba native and sculptor Ambrose Peshlakai stands with Bay College President Laura Coleman, who purchased, on behalf of the college, a sculpture for permanent display.
A sculptor, Ambrose works in stone. He thoroughly enjoys this medium, which allows him ample room to continually broaden his creative reach with each piece. Considering his art from a purely symbolic perspective, its permanence and solidity mirror the strength of its creator. His resolve to maintain the sobriety that saved him.
Although Ambrose, a single father, has lived in Sault Ste. Marie for some time now, he will be moving back to the Escanaba area when his son, Eric, graduates from high school this spring.
"Eric will be deciding before graduation if he's going to attend Colorado Springs Academy, Virginia Tech or West Point, where he was offered a full ride," said Ambrose. "It's his choice, though," he added. No matter which direction his son takes, however, Ambrose will be taking the road back home.
"The draw to be back here is very strong, with the Bonifas (Fine Arts Center) here, the opportunities, the culture and people... It's time for me to come home."
Meanwhile, Ambrose is receiving help from an old friend to further promote his artwork. Escanaba resident Craig Woerpel has designed a Web page for Ambrose's work - honorfeather.com - so that anyone may see the sculptures he has completed. In addition, utilizing Craig's photography skills, followers of (and newcomers to) Ambrose's work will now see the prints he created. Incorporating the feathers of the symbolic eagle, for which his work has become increasingly well known, he would like to do more solo shows, in addition to the juried shows in which he has typically participated.
Locally, Bay College President Laura Coleman recently purchased one of Ambrose's sculptures for permanent display in the college's collection. The Hannahville Indian Tribe recently purchased one of Ambrose's prints. Still another of his prints will be auctioned off at the Delta County Cancer Alliance golf outing in June.
"The Senior Vice Commander in Chief for Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) International ordered a print. He lives in Oregon," said Ambrose. "That will take this piece international, and the rest of the work will follow," he said.
"With his artwork already in collections in Russia, Brazil and Canada, Ambrose continues to advocate respect for man and nature, while also serving as an example of what sobriety can bring to one's life - respect for self, and honor of life. As Ambrose has proven, that can be carved in stone.