Monday, April 23, 2012

Artist Statement: The Heritage Helmet Art Project


Title: For What They Believed
Materials: Metal war helmet, buck skin leather, leather lacing, glass beads, embroidery thread, beading thread, plastic ring, acrylic paint.
The inspiration for this helmet art stems from events surrounding the war of 1812. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of this military event, it is important to remember all who helped win the fight and be reminded of the promises that were made for their help. Many historians and strategists agree that Canada would be a very different place if it wasn’t for the First Nations groups who agreed to fight alongside the British[1].
The leather skin covering the helmet represents how the First Nations provided cover, protection and support for the British. The beaded belt is a small scale representation of the “2 People (or 2 Row) Wampum”[2], a historical artifact of the diplomatic alliance between the British Crown and Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Confederacy comprised of Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora)[3]. The two purple lines running down the centre represent two peoples on a parallel journey, never to overcome one another[4]. The painted floral motif on the leather represents the Queen’s York Rangers, from their insignia[5]. Similar to a tattoo on skin, they also represent the indelible mark that has been left behind by historical events.
If you’ve read my blog in the past, you’ll know that it took me a while to reflect on my reasons for participating[6]. Now that it’s completed, I feel confident that I was able to capture the message I intended. This helmet is not associated with any political party or stripe. Rather, it is a representation of the soldiers – both First Nations and European – who fought for what they believed. My greatest wish would be that a First Nations Elder and a representative of the Crown approve this work and bless it as a symbol for reconciling truth.

For more information about the Heritage Helmet Art Project and the Lt. Governor Simcoe's Levee in Honour of the Queen's York Rangers, visit: http://www.simcoeslevee.ca/.


[1] http://celebrate1812.ca/page/first-nations
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wampum
[3] http://www.grandriver.ca/HeritageDay/Woodworth.pdf
[4] http://www.akwesasne.ca/tworowwampum.html
[5] http://qyrang.ca/
[6] http://nathaliebertin.blogspot.ca/2012/03/opportunities-for-learning-abound.html


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Art Really Does Cross Boundaries

Back in the winter, I had to chance to participate in a couple of great fundraising auctions that were organized and led by Mallory Knox. What started out as a quick way to raise funds for the people in crisis in Attawapiskat turned into an extraordinary online community. Not only did the auction raise a few thousand dollars, it raised awareness, brought complete strangers together from all over Canada, the US and overseas (some of whom are still "friends") and helped showcase some really incredible talent that we likely would not have seen otherwise.

The first auction was such a resounding success that another auction was set up in early 2012 to raise funds for the Lakota Pine Ridge Children's Enrichment Project, chosen by member vote. The second auction was also a great success thanks to all the participants, but mostly thanks to Knox's incredible coordinating abilities and strength of character. Check out the great write up for the "Art Knows No Boundaries Auction" on the Lakota Kids blog. It just goes to show the power of community, even if that community spans across the normal physical boundaries found on maps.