Cree syllabic light sculptures aptly describe Saskatoon
- NC Raine | May 04, 2018
The City of Saskatoon has unveiled a new contemporary urban light sculpture on the north facing wall of the Saskatchewan Craft Council on Broadway Avenue.
The light sculpture, named 'River and Sky', is inscribed in Cree syllabics, 'nipiy mina sipiy' - a very Saskatoon-evocative script, which literally translates to 'river and sky'. The temporary public artwork is by artist Tony Stallard, and developed in collaboration with Cree artists Joseph Naytowhow and Kenneth T. Williams.
“I feel like there's an opportunity by opening our hearts and minds to the language of the Cree people,” said Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark during the March 15th artwork unveiling at the Saskatchewan Craft Council.
“Part of my job is to reach out to the non-Indigenous community and have people realize that this is a huge opportunity...as we figure out a different relationship from a colonial mindset to a people walking together. I hear from elders, it's a doorway into understanding a different worldview,” said Clark.
“I hope the whole community can see this as that window to a better future.”
The artwork is intended to reflect the “sacred and ritualistic space” of Treaty 6, referencing the treaty's message, “as long as the river flows, the grass grows, and the sun shines.” The sculpture also salutes the historic Elders' meeting place near the river, and as a contemporary location to gather, meet, and socialize.
“The art that we see going up is a very powerful statement of creating beauty in this city,” said Harry Lafond, Executive Director at the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. “That's what this city is about, building relationships through every possible opportunity that presents itself. And art is a powerful speaker of relationships.”
'River and Sky' is part of the city's Placemaker Program, which aims to add significance to civic spaces through temporary public art and engage audiences with contemporary art practices. A sister artwork, 'Land of Berries', is currently installed on the north facing wall of the Persephone Theatre.
“The reflection of 'River and Sky' in Cree syllabics through public art helps to create a sense of inclusion and understanding in our community,” added Mary Culbertson, Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan. “This is especially important as we journey together towards reconciliation.”