Client: Mikisew First Nation
Location: Fort Chipewyan, AB, Canada
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $70,000
Western Health Planning Associates Ltd.
Group2 Architecture Interior Design Ltd.
Created for the Mikisew Elder Care Centre, this mosaic canopy welcomes patients and family members, providing a feeling of care and shelter physically as well as spiritually through the incorporation of cultural symbols.
Created in a graphic style inspired by artist, Norval Morrisseau, this piece features three animals and their corresponding elements (air / eagle, land / moose, and water / fish) which are represented together in an original mosaic made from translucent onyx stone. In the centre of the piece is an oval. Representing both the life-giving sun and the protective nurturing properties of an egg or womb, this oval element embodies the notion of security and care that our Elders provided for us which we can now return to them.
This expansive mosaic, which faces down toward the people walking below, will be supported by two Glulam beams, representing the eagle's legs. The open stance of the legs creates a sense of welcome to visitors approaching the entrance while the Spirit Eagle's wings above provide shelter from the elements to those who venture under their protection.
For my piece Spirit Eagle, commissioned by the Mikisew First Nation, located in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, I worked closely with community leaders, architects, engineers, and suppliers to design, fabricate, deliver, and install a 7000 lb glass canopy with 17,000 individual tiles in the middle of winter, in north-eastern Alberta, on time and on budget.
Ongoing communication with community associations, clients, stakeholders, and, most importantly, the community members who will experience the finished project as part of their environment, is an indispensable part of my practice. I strive to work always in an ethically sound, environmentally conscious way, to produce work that emerges organically from context, audience, and materials.