Maternal

acrylic on birch panel
12 in. x 24 in.
2016

Commissioned by Calgary Public Art for their Centre City Banner Program in celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary focusing on how Canadian wilderness affects and shapes Canadian identity. I worked closely with Blackfoot Elder Casey EagleSpeaker and Stoney/Nakoda Elder Paul Daniels in planning a community Nature Walk which explored how individuals see nature integrating into their lives. Leading the walk, Casey and Paul focused on the relationship to the land, both historical and present. The walk presented participants with a deeper meaning of the environment as it relates to people. All six of these designs were informed by the teachings and reflections shared at this event.

 

Maternal is based off of a specific story shared during one of the sharing circles. A little girl described an intimate experience fostering a Magpie hatchling she had found in her backyard. She stated that it had fallen from its nest and had both a missing eye and a broken wing. Over a few days, she eventually had to have the hatchling put down. To me, this story represented a delicate experience of maternal instincts. This may of also been her first experience with death. I found this story extremely touching and inspiring. In my design you will find a tall deer with human attributes. To me, deer have feminine and nurturing characteristics. In its hands, I have mimicked the shape of a womb, a sacred feminine symbol. From the middle of the womb is an eye-like shape which connects to the missing eye expressed by the little girl. This link represents her connection to this hatchling. From inside the deer, a mother magpie is feeding her child. This blends into the lower half where a hatchling and its skeleton sit wrapped in a safe nest.