WIKWEMIKONG— The Wiikwemkoong Art Gallery hosted the second annual Celebration of the Arts Week in Wikwemikong, facilitating a series of workshops to highlight the talented artists in the community and provide them with a platform to share their gift.

Participants in Nick Cywink’s Woodland-style painting class work on their pieces.
Participants in Nick Cywink’s Woodland-style painting class work on their pieces.

“This week is an extension of our Bringing Colour to Life project,” explained Wiikwemkoong Art Gallery Curator Michael Cywink. “We have workshops on beadwork, Woodland-style painting, women’s and men’s powwow dance and spray art. This week has been going really well and we have had a lot of participants in all of the workshops.”

The Bringing Colour to Life project also includes the painting of pillars at the Wikwemikong Mini Mall by local artists as well as murals throughout the community. The facility received funding through the Ontario Arts Council for the project.

The Expositor had the opportunity to participate in Cindy Aibens’ beadwork earrings workshop and learn first hand about the detailed art.

“I have been beading since I was seven-years-old,” Ms. Aibens told The Expositor. “Poky Fox, a Wikwemikong beader, really inspired me to learn. I taught myself how to make necklaces and later, when I moved to the States for a few years, medallions. At first it was hard, but I remember how rewarding it was after I finished my first one.”

Cindy Aibens works with participants in her beadwork earrings  workshop. photos by Robin Burridge
Cindy Aibens works with participants in her beadwork earrings
workshop.
photos by Robin Burridge

Now Ms. Aibens, an experienced beader herself in the community, makes and sells barrettes, hair ties, key chains, earrings, wallets and lanyards, in addition to sharing her gift with youth and others in the community through workshops like the ones she led as part of the Celebration of Arts Week.

“Beading can be very healing,” shared Ms. Aibens. “You can pour your emotions into the piece you are creating—any negative emotions you can just put into the piece and then smudge it when you are done. Beading takes a lot of patience, but it also teaches lessons. Working through a knot takes problem solving and figuring out your pattern is like a puzzle—both you work through to get back on track.”

“Socializing is also a big part of beadwork,” she added. “You have a real sense of community. I love inspiring others and helping to rejuvenate this traditional craft.”

The Wiikwemkoong Art Gallery is located in the new Wikwemikong Business Centre, 15 Edward Street, Unit 5. For more information call 705-859-2204.