Northern Youth Abroad

The last Clay Project Workshop. So sad for me. These workshops, preparations and even report-writing have been a wonderful experience. 2017 has been a really busy year, but also one of my best.

On July 29th the participants from the Northern Youth Abroad program came to Minwaashin Lodge for lunch and a tile making workshop. As usual the workshop was fabulous...but this time I can actually say 'we made tiles, had wonderful discussions, ate great food, listened to music AND sang and danced!!' I got to meet and hang out with a bunch of really cool teenagers and was introduced to a great new band (new to me). Life doesn't really get much better than this.

Northern Youth Abroad (NYA) cultivates youth leadership, individual career goals, cross-cultural awareness, and international citizenship amongst youth from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories aged 15-22. The program strengthens the self-identity and cultural understanding of its Participants and enhances their participation and success in the school system by providing a life-changing and life-directing experience relevant to the needs and aspirations of Northern youth.

This is the song we listened to over and over...those who knew the words sang and others danced! Ukiuq by the Jerry Cans from Nunavut. so great.

 thanks to these great people!

thanks to these great people!

and here are the beautiful tiles they made....

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 the past is choking me / -light fading from life- / my head is getting dizzy / these memories keep me / I am stuck inside / my limbs are made heavy / this history owns me / we are one in the same / all my bones turn to stone

the past is choking me / -light fading from life- / my head is getting dizzy / these memories keep me / I am stuck inside / my limbs are made heavy / this history owns me / we are one in the same / all my bones turn to stone

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steps to making a clay tile....

...from a wet block of clay to a stone-hard tile

 rolling out a block of clay

rolling out a block of clay

 side boards are used to ensure the rolled tile will have an even thickness all over

side boards are used to ensure the rolled tile will have an even thickness all over

 tracing out the tile using the wood template

tracing out the tile using the wood template

 taking away the extra clay

taking away the extra clay

 carving the design into the wet clay

carving the design into the wet clay

 applying under-glaze paints to colour the tiles

applying under-glaze paints to colour the tiles

 Nancy with her finished wet tile

Nancy with her finished wet tile

 tile completely dried after 5 days

tile completely dried after 5 days

 tile with a clear glaze applied over top

tile with a clear glaze applied over top

 tiles loaded into the kiln before firing

tiles loaded into the kiln before firing

 electric kiln fires for 10 hours reaching 2500 degrees fahrenheit

electric kiln fires for 10 hours reaching 2500 degrees fahrenheit

 finished tiles....still burning hot from the kiln firing

finished tiles....still burning hot from the kiln firing

 Nancy's beautiful finished tile!

Nancy's beautiful finished tile!

Gallery 101

Gallery 101 in Ottawa has generously offered to host the closing ceremonies for The Clay Project if we are not able to find a permanent home by the end of the year. The plan with the gallery is to temporarily mount the tiles (on gallery wall rails) so that we can see the tiles all together, as one big ARTWORK. Of course we will have music and food to accompany the beautiful works in order to properly Celebrate this Community Project!!

Thank you Gallery 101 and director Laura Margita for so generously supporting us!!

 First Nations, Inuit and Metis tiles...

First Nations, Inuit and Metis tiles...

Finished tiles from 510 Rideau

5 more tiles ready for the mural!

 In Inuktituk nuna, ᓄᓇ means earth, nature, land. This tile maker said "Nuna is us. The Inuit People"

In Inuktituk nuna, ᓄᓇ means earth, nature, land. This tile maker said "Nuna is us. The Inuit People"

 really nice version of the medicine wheel and the four directions...with a feather

really nice version of the medicine wheel and the four directions...with a feather

 The syllabics ᓄᓇᕗᑦ mean Nunavut

The syllabics ᓄᓇᕗᑦ mean Nunavut

 Kawennihes is the tile makers Mohawk name. The Iroquois Confederacy symbol is also seen in the centre of the tile.

Kawennihes is the tile makers Mohawk name. The Iroquois Confederacy symbol is also seen in the centre of the tile.

 A representation of the original Two Row Wampum treaty belt.

A representation of the original Two Row Wampum treaty belt.

A Wampum is a traditional shell bead that was often kept on strings and used in storytelling, ceremonial gifts, and recording important treaties and historical events. In 1613 a mutual treaty between the Dutch Government and the Five Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) was recorded on The Two Row Wampum treaty belt. The agreement is considered by the Haudenosaunee to be the basis of all of their subsequent treaties with European and North American governments. 

This wampum records the meaning of the agreement, which declared peaceful coexistence between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers in the area. The pattern of the belt consists of two rows of purple wampum beads against a background of white beads. The purple beads signify the courses of two vessels — a Haudenosaunee canoe and a European ship — traveling down the river of life together, parallel but never touching.  The three white stripes denote peace and friendship.

Workshop at the Shawenjeagamik Centre

This was a great workshop, the Shawenjeagamik Centre at 510 Rideau is a really nice place. It is an outreach, drop-in centre branch of Odawa Native Friendship Centre. Unfortunately we planned our day on the same weekend as the big June Pow Wow at Vincent Massey Park in Ottawa...so attendance was not as we expected. But the folks who came made up for the numbers in enthusiasm! Thank so much to Carrie and Jamie for organizing the workshop with 510 Rideau...and to Nancy who made it all so worthwhile!

 showing Nancy how to 'erase' mistakes on a wet tile...photo credit: Andrew Alexander

showing Nancy how to 'erase' mistakes on a wet tile...photo credit: Andrew Alexander

 Making and designing tiles. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander

Making and designing tiles. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander

 Transferring an image onto the wet clay. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander 

Transferring an image onto the wet clay. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander 

 Pressing an image into the wet clay. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander

Pressing an image into the wet clay. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander

 Painting finished design. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander

Painting finished design. Photo credit: Andrew Alexander

ᐊᕐᓇᐃᑦ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᑲᑎᓐᓂᖓ

One tile at the Woman's Gathering was made by a lovely Inuit woman, who very carefully scripted her tile and told me what the beautiful Inuktitut syllabics meant. Unfortunately I stupidly lost the piece of paper where she had written down the translation...So, after much research on-line and two great sites, here and here, I figured out that ᐊᕐᓇᐃᑦ or ᐊᕐᓀᑦ means women in Inuktitut, in Latin script 'arnait'. (This is the plural form, 'arnaq' being woman, the singular form)  ᐃᓄᐃᑦ means Inuit, in Latin script 'Inuit' (much easier to figure out!) But sadly I couldn't figure out what ᑲᑎᓐᓂᖓ means, in Latin script it translates literally into 'katinninga' but I can't find the meaning of this word anywhere. I remember the woman who crafted the tile telling me the syllabics meant something like 'Inuit women gathering' but she hesitated as if she knew it wouldn't be easily looked up...based on this I did find that 'katinngajut' ᑲᑎᓐᖓᔪᑦ (very similar in my ignorant opinion) means group; 'a collection of elements that can be treated as a whole' or 'a (usually) small group of people who perform music together'. So, as far as I am concerned, I did remember correctly what the beautiful, very smart woman said:  Inuit Women Gathering 

 Inuit Women Gathering

Inuit Women Gathering

The Métis

The Métis language is called Michif:  It is a mixed language using mainly French and Cree but also some Ojibwa and English. A language similar to Michif is Bungee which also has some Gaelic words in it.

Métis art and design was greatly influenced by both European and Indigenous Cultures. Their imagery was influenced by, but also influenced many other Native groups in Canada.  In particular, the Métis became famous for their Beadwork and Floral Designs. These (often) symmetrical patterns were (often) set against dark backgrounds. They created their works using Seed Beads and/or the embroidery techniques first introduced by the Ursuline Nuns. They traded their beautiful wares throughout Canada and Europe

These floral patterns and Beadwork are an important part of Métis culture, and have become known distinctively as ‘Métis'. The Beadwork can be seen on jackets, bags, leggings, gloves, vest, moccasins and often saddles and horse gear. Increasingly this style is found as individual artworks, as it is no longer used solely for decorative purposes.

Many of The Clay Project tiles seem strongly influenced by the Métis culture and heritage:

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Women's Gathering along the Shores of the Pasapkedjiwanong

This workshop was so nice; it took place in the dining hall at an old camp, Rideau Hill Camp, along the Pasapkedjiwanong, the original Algonquin name for the Rideau River. It means 'the river that passes between the rocks'. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the all the windows in the old dining hall were open and the fans were blowing...

As we were located in the dining room, there was a lot of coming and going because of hunger, thirst and the need to escape the heat outside...this meant more and more women just kept joining us, filling more and more tables full of tiles!

 Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

 Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

 Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

 Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

 I believe all of the woman at this table were Métis, over the course of the workshops I started to recognize patterns involving flowers, that I believe come from traditional Métis Culture. Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

I believe all of the woman at this table were Métis, over the course of the workshops I started to recognize patterns involving flowers, that I believe come from traditional Métis Culture. Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

 one of the Métis tiles I believe...Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

one of the Métis tiles I believe...Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

 I have to agree...Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

I have to agree...Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

 Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

Photo credit: Jenna Spagnoli

 

 

PD day at Minwaashin Lodge

Today we worked at clay all day at Minwaashin Lodge; in the morning we made pinch-pot smudge bowls and other fabulous sculptures, then we shared a delicious (as always) lunch, and in the afternoon we made tiles for the Clay Project. There were many participants, children and parents and many of the staff from the Lodge too!

 there were many silly little girls sitting all together :)

there were many silly little girls sitting all together :)

 A beautiful representation of the Nunavut Flag.

A beautiful representation of the Nunavut Flag.

The Nunavut flag features a red inuksuk, a traditional Inuit land marker, a blue star representing Niqirtsuituq, the north star and the leadership of elders in the community, and the colours blue, yellow and white represent the riches of the land, sea and sky.

 oh this was a difficult tile to make! the young teen who made it truly got a good taste of the mental struggle involved in being a visual artist...but with just a little help from her mum, she succeeded beautifully!

oh this was a difficult tile to make! the young teen who made it truly got a good taste of the mental struggle involved in being a visual artist...but with just a little help from her mum, she succeeded beautifully!

 this tile was made by a couple of the giggly girls, it was even covered in glittery sprinkles...but sadly those burn away in the kiln firing

this tile was made by a couple of the giggly girls, it was even covered in glittery sprinkles...but sadly those burn away in the kiln firing

 a really lovely decorative medicine wheel

a really lovely decorative medicine wheel

 thank goodness!

thank goodness!

 This tile was also a struggle, not because the maker had such a strong vision as much as she found it very difficult to draw/carve on the wet clay. Her head just didn't work in that way. Interestingly I heard this woman speaking quietly with the young teen (horse tile) after the workshop about how life can present difficulties which we need to try and work through. It takes a community...thank you!

This tile was also a struggle, not because the maker had such a strong vision as much as she found it very difficult to draw/carve on the wet clay. Her head just didn't work in that way. Interestingly I heard this woman speaking quietly with the young teen (horse tile) after the workshop about how life can present difficulties which we need to try and work through. It takes a community...thank you!

 design inspired by Polish ceramics, a strong part of the heritage of this delicious cook at Minwaashin Lodge

design inspired by Polish ceramics, a strong part of the heritage of this delicious cook at Minwaashin Lodge

 at one time this unicorn was also covered in glitter!

at one time this unicorn was also covered in glitter!

 Kateri's awesome tile, Person Extraordinaire from Minwaashin Lodge

Kateri's awesome tile, Person Extraordinaire from Minwaashin Lodge

 so beautiful. thank you Flo, another great person/worker at Minwaashin Lodge

so beautiful. thank you Flo, another great person/worker at Minwaashin Lodge

 a smiley rainbow pile of poop, an 'emoji' I am told :)

a smiley rainbow pile of poop, an 'emoji' I am told :)

 I agree, we definitely need more wolves howling at the moon in our lives

I agree, we definitely need more wolves howling at the moon in our lives

 I believe this shy woman is dancing in a Jingle Dress. 

I believe this shy woman is dancing in a Jingle Dress. 

From what I understand, the Jingle Dress is special in that the dress is as important as the dance. It is a medicine dress which is worn for a healing dance. When a woman takes on the responsibility of their dress it should be treated with ceremony. The rows of metal cones, called ziibaaska'iganan in Ojibwe, dangle from the dresses and rattle and clink as the dancers move. So beautiful.

a special tile

 
 finished tile made by Ginger Cote

finished tile made by Ginger Cote

Through the Clay Project facebook page, Ginger Cote sent an inspiring description of the tile she made for the community mural. Thank you so much Ginger for sharing the explanation of your tile with us.

Words by Ginger Cote, April 2017
 
My art piece was a reflection of what was on my mind with regard to lectures we had received in INDIG1000 earlier in the week. We had linguist Rebekah Ingram come in to lecture about 'Language on the Land'. In her lecture she described how language and names of places tell a story of the land and how Indigenous words and meanings were misinterpreted by settlers when Canada was first being colonized and mapped out. In my piece, I wanted to reflect this idea. 
As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, Indigenous people also reflect on the 150 years + of struggle on Turtle Island. While I was thinking of this, I realized I was using my art as a tool in the same way in which Garneau has. Where in his article, 'Imaginary Spaces of Conciliation', he states, 'I want to signal that something interesting is going on beyond the colonial gaze. At the same time by using dominant culture vernacular. 'Furthermore, in his article, there is a section where he describes the work of a young Africa America who designs his work in a way that is 'closed to the Eurocentric gaze'. I think that this is what I was going for in my contribution to Canada's 150th. In my art piece, I depicted my own version of Ingram's lecture wherein she told a story of how certain places were incorrectly named. She spoke of a meeting of settlers asking Indigenous people in that region what the name of their camp was. The Indigenous persons thinking that they were asking where they got off their canoe gave them a different answer in their language. In this clash of culture, it led to a misunderstanding based on their separate interpretations. As a result, it manifested itself into the incorrect name of the area. She pointed out that unless you were familiar with the language and people of the area, you could never have recognized or even understood the true meaning of the names which reflect the sentiments of the land. I think she referred to this as 'sacred geography'. Later on, we focused on an area of land which she knew was named in the spring. She knew this because it was a place which gets a lot of water that time of season. As a result it creates a never ending whirlpool in the river. To the local people, this was a sacred place which some have linked to the story of the Peacemaker. It may have been where the tree of peace was located or where the different nations in the Six Nations Confederacy threw down their weapons as a sentiment to peace. Though, to be honest, I can't remember exactly word for word what she said. However, in my art work I tied these ideas together and drew a picture of the river which led to the whirlpool on the route that the Indigenous people met with the Settlers. There were lines to represent the bush area where the conversations took place. 
Eventually my river led to the whirlpool which turned into a never ending abyss. This was my interpretation and symbolism to depict the relationship between Indigenous people and Canada –how we are both here in this country and place, yet we are unable to understand each other. This then leads to the misrepresentation of this land which we both call home. It is a statement contrary to the utopia that has been publicized by the media and government to fuel patriotism. This is, when you question it, you can begin to see the cracks too. Much like our relationship to the state, in the end it is a reflection that comes full circle back to the story of Indigenous people thinking one thing and Canada thinking something else and how we are both in the same conversation but speaking different languages.  
This was my contribution to the mural for Canada's 150th celebration from my perspective, as an Indigenous person in Canada and in Turtle Island. My artwork is not very good, but if someone ever looks at it and sees just a river with a hole in it and some lines, it would be perfectly fitting because just like Indigenous causes, they cannot see the enormous concept behind it. Eventually it will be just another small clay tile among many; lost somewhere in 'the nation's capital'.  
 

Family Night Workshop at Minwaashin Lodge

Wow! What a night! Absolute Fabulous Chaos! After having previously made the acquaintance of a lovely man, Howard Adler, we decided it would be great to hold a Clay Project workshop on Family Night at Minwaashin Lodge. Great it was!

Howard Adler, an Indigenous Film Maker Extraordinaire and Artist in General, runs a handful of Art Nights throughout the year on Family Night at Minwaashin Lodge, which are very popular with the community. The way the evening usually runs is first everyone shares a dinner together and then Howard sets up his workshop and people begin as they are finished eating. Well, I learned a very valuable lesson tonight, my usual laisser-faire attitude doesn't always work very well! Thank goodness Howard was there to help me, because I found it very difficult to demonstrate all the steps involved in making and designing a clay tile to 18 or so people all at different times! Also, without the film and discussion at the beginning of the workshop, I felt we lacked a centering and proper understanding of the importance of clay in our modern and traditional communities. In any case, we had fun and many many wonderful tiles were made for the mural...

 abstract art at its best! Photo credit: Howard Adler

abstract art at its best! Photo credit: Howard Adler

 great idea! Photo credit: Howard Adler

great idea! Photo credit: Howard Adler

 rolling out the clay....Photo credit: Howard Adler

rolling out the clay....Photo credit: Howard Adler

 cutting out the tile shape from the template. Photo credit: Howard Adler

cutting out the tile shape from the template. Photo credit: Howard Adler

 I love this tile, it is so full of thought! Photo credit: Howard Adler 

I love this tile, it is so full of thought! Photo credit: Howard Adler 

 Kanien'keha:ka means People of the Flint (also known as Mohawk People) The middle design is the Iroquois Confederacy symbol, Haudenosaunee, also known as 6 Nations Confederacy.  Shono:rase means The New Root, the Mohawk name of the tile maker. Photo credit: Howard Adler

Kanien'keha:ka means People of the Flint (also known as Mohawk People) The middle design is the Iroquois Confederacy symbol, Haudenosaunee, also known as 6 Nations Confederacy.  Shono:rase means The New Root, the Mohawk name of the tile maker. Photo credit: Howard Adler

 The Hiawatha Wampum Belt 

The Hiawatha Wampum Belt 

 The Medicine Wheel and the Four Directions. Photo credit: Howard Adler

The Medicine Wheel and the Four Directions. Photo credit: Howard Adler

The Medicine Wheel and the Four Directions is a very popular symbol in First Nations modern and traditional life. Many tile makers were inspired to put their own version of this symbol on their Clay Project tile. According to the website, Native Voices

The Medicine Wheel has been used by generations of various Native American tribes for health and healing. It embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree—all of which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life.
Movement in the Medicine Wheel and in Native American ceremonies is circular, and typically in a clockwise, or “sun-wise” direction. This helps to align with the forces of Nature, such as gravity and the rising and setting of the Sun.
Different tribes interpret the Medicine Wheel differently. Each of the Four Directions (East, South, West, and North) is typically represented by a distinctive color, such as black, red, yellow, and white, which for some stands for the human races.
The Directions can also represent:  Stages of life: birth, youth, adult (or elder), death/ Seasons of the year: spring, summer, winter, fall/ Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical/ Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water, earth/ Animals: Eagle, Bear, Wolf, Buffalo, many others/ Ceremonial plants: tobacco, sweet grass, sage, cedar

tiles clear glazed and fired...

before and after pictures:  On the left, the tiles as were created by participants, air-dried and if coloured, have under-glazes painted on them. On the right, the tiles are finished, have been coated in a clear glaze and fired to 2500 degrees fahrenheight. 

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Aanii !

 
 Ojibwe; Aanii - Greetings! Hi!

Ojibwe; Aanii - Greetings! Hi!

This workshop introduced me to just how diverse the Minwaashin Lodge community can be. There was a wide variety in ages again at the workshop, but only one of the participants was Indigenous, an Ojibwe elder woman. The others were made up of women and children who were drawn to the community centre for what it stands for, for the traditional way of life and values it represents. The conversation which occurred while the participants were all working on their tiles was very interesting. One of the women grew up right next to a reserve in northern Ontario where her and her family had always respected and learned from the traditional practices of the First Peoples living in the area. And the other woman, invited by her friend to come along, was of European descent, strong in her own traditions.

The woman from northern Ontario spoke of a number of Indigenous traditional teas and medicines which she still uses from her childhood, and the Ojibwe woman spoke of her past and upbringing too. She had attended a residential school and was never taught the ways nor language of her people. She is now in the process of learning her Native language, Ojibwe. As an adult she had worked as a teacher and has always been very proud of her heritage. Her tile, seen above, represents this for her.  Aanii !

 a memory of northern ontario maybe?

a memory of northern ontario maybe?

 This is the logo for Minwaashin Lodge. In their large community room where the clay workshops are held at the centre, there is a lovely textile hanging that was the inspiration for this tile. 

This is the logo for Minwaashin Lodge. In their large community room where the clay workshops are held at the centre, there is a lovely textile hanging that was the inspiration for this tile. 

 Life-Cycle Service Model from  Minwaashin Lodge  website

Life-Cycle Service Model from Minwaashin Lodge website

 some nice little colourful hands...

some nice little colourful hands...

 fingerprints, hand prints and carefully drawn marks and little flowers

fingerprints, hand prints and carefully drawn marks and little flowers

 after struggling with carving the wet clay, difficult and new for many participants, this young girl carefully painted a tile with under-glazes...

after struggling with carving the wet clay, difficult and new for many participants, this young girl carefully painted a tile with under-glazes...

 although I absolutely love every single tile that I've seen so far, this tile is definitely one of my favourites, watching its process was fantastic! It was inspired by the crack/wrinkle in the clay which can be seen in the middle of the tile, which became the nose of this wonderful face. The discussion between the young boy and myself when I was asked to help him mix the proper colour for the skin tone was incredible. In the end he told me that I had gotten it exactly right, Phew!

although I absolutely love every single tile that I've seen so far, this tile is definitely one of my favourites, watching its process was fantastic! It was inspired by the crack/wrinkle in the clay which can be seen in the middle of the tile, which became the nose of this wonderful face. The discussion between the young boy and myself when I was asked to help him mix the proper colour for the skin tone was incredible. In the end he told me that I had gotten it exactly right, Phew!

sharing a meal and then a second workshop

Sharing a meal with the participants in the workshops is such a brilliant idea. All of us were hungry at noon and ate heartily. It is also such a special time to eat together and share food. The afternoon workshop participants were also able to snack as needed, this being especially beneficial to the children who ate everything in sight!

Two people were signed up for the afternoon workshop; neither of them came...but by 1:30 there were a large number of people who had gathered! Ages ranged from a 3-year-old to a couple of elder grandmothers. I didn't bring enough rolling mats with me as I expected lower numbers so had to quickly improvise...it all worked out fantastically. All enjoyed the film, actually we watched it twice as 5 more people showed up later. All of them were happy to carve their tiles, some adding colour with the under-glazes others wishing to leave them unglazed. The youngest boy just wanted to paint with the under-glazes so I was able to provide him with two previously cut and dried tiles. 

At the beginning of the workshop I always describe how the intent of the project is to create a community mural where each of the tiles made by each participant will hang together to create one big artwork. Everyone is usually very pleased with this idea, and when asked all wish for the final mural to be hung in a very accessible and public place where all peoples are welcome and can see it. The young boy who painted two tiles, also agreed with this; but at the end of the workshop came up to me and asked very earnestly if I could at hang his tiles at the bottom of the mural so that he could see them very easily when he went to visit them. Yes, of course I can!

 another beautiful flower image, such an interesting design!

another beautiful flower image, such an interesting design!

 one of the little boys painted tiles; a desert island with a single palm tree, surrounded by water

one of the little boys painted tiles; a desert island with a single palm tree, surrounded by water

 one of the elder's tiles; seemingly simple but a very powerful design

one of the elder's tiles; seemingly simple but a very powerful design

 this tile was filled with symbolism according to its maker; each of the images in the tile represent different members in her family. A lot of who were also at the workshop making tiles themselves.

this tile was filled with symbolism according to its maker; each of the images in the tile represent different members in her family. A lot of who were also at the workshop making tiles themselves.

 this was the youngest workshop participant's tile, her older sister helped her make some markings in the wet clay and traced her little hands. Then the sister finished the space with some of her own drawings...making it a special two-sister tile.

this was the youngest workshop participant's tile, her older sister helped her make some markings in the wet clay and traced her little hands. Then the sister finished the space with some of her own drawings...making it a special two-sister tile.

 this tile tells a store about a never-ending river and the paths which are made by those who travel along and across it.

this tile tells a store about a never-ending river and the paths which are made by those who travel along and across it.

 a tile made by a young teen, when asked by her mother whether that was a bear paw in the centre, she replied that she didn't know. I liked that answer very much

a tile made by a young teen, when asked by her mother whether that was a bear paw in the centre, she replied that she didn't know. I liked that answer very much

 this tile was made by an older teen boy who before the workshop began, had described to me his favourite art form was making mosaics out of little pieces of glass...this is his clay/glass mosaic

this tile was made by an older teen boy who before the workshop began, had described to me his favourite art form was making mosaics out of little pieces of glass...this is his clay/glass mosaic

 this tile was made an another elder in the group, she wanted very much to represent the textures found in nature...I think she did an excellent job and made this tile seem so soft

this tile was made an another elder in the group, she wanted very much to represent the textures found in nature...I think she did an excellent job and made this tile seem so soft

 this is the second painted tile from the young boy; all the members in his family

this is the second painted tile from the young boy; all the members in his family

first morning at Minwaashin Lodge!

Two mothers and three children. One boy maybe 9 and two little girls, 5. The little girls liked the video (as did the others) and even asked to watch it again! Success = Not a boring video that only clay nuts would appreciate.

All of them were eager to carve and paint their tiles...the boy used paper to design his and the two little girls just jumped right in! All of the finished tiles are so beautiful and meaningful to each participant! 

Conversation and interest was lively and fun throughout the morning...interestingly one of the little girls asked me very seriously if I was 'Native'. I said no that I was mostly 'Scottish', she considered this a moment and then seemed quite happy with that answer.

 so carefully yet confidently created, she knew exactly what she was doing

so carefully yet confidently created, she knew exactly what she was doing

 self portrait

self portrait

 the very carefully crafted the young boy, Tawodi's tile

the very carefully crafted the young boy, Tawodi's tile

 by using the technique of pointillism, making an image out of dots, or in this case pinholes, this tile looks so much like it has been beaded!!

by using the technique of pointillism, making an image out of dots, or in this case pinholes, this tile looks so much like it has been beaded!!

 this tile is also beautifully highlighted with the use of little dots. Little did I know how popular the use of flower imagery was going to be; so nice that the natural world is constantly represented in these tiles!

this tile is also beautifully highlighted with the use of little dots. Little did I know how popular the use of flower imagery was going to be; so nice that the natural world is constantly represented in these tiles!

workshops begin!

workshop promotion posters for Minwaashin Lodge to send out to their Aboriginal Community Group affiliations:

 workshops 1 and 2 officially advertised!!!

workshops 1 and 2 officially advertised!!!

 description of what each workshop will involve...

description of what each workshop will involve...

Mohawk Pottery

While researching early ceramics in the St. Lawrence Valley region I came upon a very interesting story. It is about Mohawk Pottery:

FROM THE EARTH: Contemporary First Nations Clay
Curated by Virginia M. Eichhorn May 27th to September 4th, 2005/ Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery, Waterloo, ON
For over 3000 years the people of the Kahniakehaka (Mohawk) nation made pottery. Pottery that was used primarily for functional reasons – cooking vessels, containers – and also for cermonial purposes such as pipes. However with the advent of the European settlers in the 18th century the traditional creation and use of pottery by the Mohawk people changed. The Europeans brought with them pots, pans, cups and dishes made of tin, copper and iron. These implements became increasingly used by the Mohawks and their traditional pottery skills and practices began to die out, eventually becoming forgotten.
Two hundred years later, in the middle of the 20th century, the Mohawk pottery making practice was revived. The late Elda “Bun” Smith, a Mohawk woman living on Six Nations Reserve began collecting pieces of broken pottery that she found dispersed throughout the lands of the Reserve. As her son Steve Smith has said, you couldn’t dig in the earth or walk through the woods without coming upon the broken shards.
Elda was curious about this lost art and began actively to investigate the history of Mohawk pottery. Serendipitously, at that time the Ontario Arts Council sent a potter named Tessa Kidick from Vineland Station to teach pottery at Six Nations. In this pursuit, in this reclamation of a lost art, Elda was joined by Oliver Smith, Darlene Smith, Sylvia Smith, Dee Martin, and Karen Williams who began to create a form of pottery which became known as Mohawk Pottery. They dug their own clay out of the ground and they didn’t use electric kilns. In a very true sense they had gone back to the roots of this traditional practice.
The work which was created by those involved in Mohawk Pottery was beautiful and powerful, drawing upon their rich heritage but infusing it also with elements of their contemporary sensibility. In 1967 Elda Smith had created a stunning tea-set using the Wampum bead design as her inspiration. However, in recognition of the significance of this design she refused to sell it. Instead, it was presented to Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Canada during Expo 1967.
In the 1970s Mohawk Pottery stopped working as a workshop with the potters developing their individual practices. Elda’s son Steve began work in ceramics as a 12 year old. His distinctive style and eye for detail lead to such success that he eventually was able to quit his job as a steel-worker and devote himself to pottery making full-time. Steve’s wife Leigh and his daughter Santee are also successful potters. And Steve’s 7 year old granddaughter now joins him in the studio as well.
Cindy Henhawk is also a second generation potter. Her mother Darlene was Elda’s sister and she taught Cindy the art of pottery. Cindy and her family are now actively producing striking and functional works.
The Monture brothers, Don and Ron, work in the most traditional of methods. These clay vessels have been fashioned after ancient North Eastern Woodland cultures, circa 1300- 1600 AD as documented by archaeologists. All designs and decorations can be attributed to the Iroquois, Huron and Susquehannock cultures of that time. Their clay smoking pipes are exact replicas of early Iroquois pipes that were in use when the first Europeans arrived in the new world in the early 1600s. Although other Woodland peoples at that time made pipes, the Iroquois pipes of New York were very neatly finished – the work on them being much better than that of the earthen vessels.
The works on view as part of From the Earth: Contemporary First Nations Clay are part of a wonderful story. Knowledge was lost and then reclaimed. Traditions were forgotten and restored. Art became a means for the Mohawk people to reclaim part of their history, thus honouring the past and ensuring it will be a part of the future.

This art installation and curatorial message led to me to the next idea for an introduction to the Clay Project workshops...a slideshow highlighting traditional ceramic pots and modern ceramic pots which are still being made in the traditional style in the St. Lawrence River Valley.

here is the link to my slideshow