by Betty Bardswich
MINDEMOYA—Last year, the organization 4elements Living Arts and the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) joined to create a sculpture along with the split Grade 7 and 8 pupils at Central Manitoulin Public School (CMPS), with the students doing the actual design.
A grant from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) had enabled the arts group to partner with MICA, a non-arts association. The purpose of the partnership was to work together to get permanent sculptures on cycle trails on Manitoulin and began with Sophie Edwards, the executive director of 4elements, Maja Mielonen, the head of MICA, Guy Nielon, a MICA board member, and Heather Thoma, a member of the arts group meeting with the students and to begin the process of teaching them about scale, sites and composition. The students were also taken on a bike ride to a path in the woods that led to the area where the final piece would be erected which was by the government dock on Lake Mindemoya.
There were four artists that worked with the project including Ms. Edwards, Heather Thoma, Marianna LaFrance and Patricia Mader. As Ms. Edwards explained, a development process led to teaching about design principles and a process for designing a sculpture and how to do a creative collaboration.
The pupils were given wire and wood shims to make one of two sculptures and the results would be juried. Central Manitoulin councillor Pat MacDonald and Mr. Nielon served in this role and the designs were judged on visual aspects, emotional or intellectual interest, the viability of the structure, the proposed scale and the connection to the site and community. Ms. MacDonald was particularly impressed with the sculptures and took the project to council where she got a good response.
The sculpture that was chosen was called ‘Freedom of Flight,’ later shortened to ‘Freedom.’ One Kwe’s Kathryn Corbiere of Mindemoya was the welder who manufactured the piece. Ms. Corbiere had taken a five-month course at Northern Welding Academy in Hanmer where she received her Canadian Welding Bureau certificate. She has art work on display at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (OCF) and a Thunderbird work on the Chi-Cheemaun. “It is an exhibit panel,” she explained. “It is collapsible, it folds up.” She has also done metal signs and furniture and is in the process of doing new yardage signs at the Brookwood Brae golf course. “This is the first time doing sculpture art,” she said. “I would like to do more design pieces in the future.”
MPP Mike Mantha was on hand for the official display of the sculpture. “What a beautiful structure,” he said, “ It is always a joy to come to Mindemoya and share our talents. This will be a point of destination for people.” Mr. Mantha also reminded the youngsters from CMPS that they are the eyes and the minds of the future. “Don’t forget where your home is,” he reminded them. “We will need you as decision makers.”
Central Manitoulin Mayor Richard Stephens also attended the event and spoke of his pleasure to be in attendance at the unveiling. “This is a piece of art that will be here for many, many years,” he said as he gave special thanks to Ms. Corbiere.
CMPS student Julia Desbiens-St. Amand of M’Chigeeng spoke also. “Last year,” she told the students, “you were in Grade 7 and we were asked to design a sculpture. First we went biking three times and when we came back, we wrote down what biking felt like. Next, we took pieces of wire and made small sculptures. The best sculptures were ‘Freedom of Flight’ and ‘Good and Bad.’ So the class was split in two groups and we took the first ideas and made them better. The finished designs were amazing and both properly fit the area and reasons we bike. Sadly, we could only pick one. The winning design was the new and improved ‘Freedom of Flight,’ and that is the design of the sculpture we are all here to see today. Our whole class has worked together and everyone put something in to this sculpture so seeing it built is fantastic. Thanks to everyone who helped build this sculpture and to everyone who came out to see it today.”
There is a plaque, to be installed at the sculpture, that is entitled ‘Freedom 2016.’ It goes on to say, “The design for ‘Freedom’ was created by the 2016 graduating class of Central Manitoulin Public School through a collaborative process facilitated by 4elements Living Arts. The sculpture represents the student’s experiences of riding bikes along Mindemoya cycling trails.
Design: Graduating class of 2016, CMPS
Lead Artist-Educator: Sophie Edwards
Fabricated by: Kathryn Corbiere
The students gratefully recognize the partners and funders that made this project possible.”