When I first heard about the children found at residential schools, I was horrified. A spectrum of feelings welled up in me that began with horror, then I cried with a cascade of feelings: resentment, terror, betrayal, abandonment, my disgust at the social denial, the violence and lateral violence. I did not know what to do with my grief and sorrow so I went to my office and followed my instinct.
My office doubles as my studio with lots of Art supplies so I put my hand on a cardboard box that had been in a cupboard for years, I knew that whatever was in that box would be perfect. It was a collection of things that I had tossed in, random things over the years. The first items I pulled out were old pens, there was still ink and there was a long hat pin, and a smaller needle & thread. There was an old medicine container with plastic beads or buttons: there were peace signs & teddy bears.
Also in that box where giant orange crayons, two of them and an orange pencil crayon. I also found a chain. So the pens had been in there for so long they were almost dry. I grabbed a pad of watercolor paper, and after taking each pen apart, I shoved the long pin into every one of those cartridges of ink and began to wipe the varying blues & red inks across the dry page. It was so random, I expected nothing from the art, I was too deep in my grief just thinking about the children and families. And before I knew it, I was stepped back seeing how it looked like water and a flying red boat with two people standing on it with what looks like a fishing rod, with a heart as bait. I could never have planned it to turn out like that, I would never change it either - it becomes an underpinned theme for this piece.
I thought about the spirits of those families & children and I was feeling the need to ensure they are safely transported -- I saw how these teddy bears were like gentle guardians bringing them all home.
I'm not sure who the two people are at the top, maybe it's two sides of the creator. Maybe it's two sides of my heart. The reconciliation of past & present could be rooting the dissent that keeps me divided.
I tried to colour with crayon, on the plastic skull but I didn't like how it was turning out. Since the crayons belonged to my children I knew they were at least 20 years old & knowing that they were wax, it made sense (to me) to melt the wax to Anchor the teddy bears, stick down the pencil crayon and catch and hold the sacred tobacco. Then I strung peace signs with fine black thread and secured a path. The irony is not lost on my that it may take 7 generations for peace to reach the grave from the pin point.
So in November, when I heard that my local art gallery was having a juried competition, called "Feelings", this piece cried out to be seen. I just had to take it off my wall, secure it a bit & dust it off. I was short listed, which means that in 4 days, I will attend the awards ceremony to see where this piece ranked with the judges. It is my first time showing my art anywhere, so the truth is, I have already won!