This art installation by students from Centre High Campus in Edmonton was inspired by the REDress Project by artist Jaime Black.
An art club discussion at an Edmonton high school created such a spark of interest that the result was a successful art installation.
The discussion, which took place at Centre High Campus, was about the REDress Project by artist Jaime Black. Focused on the issue of missing or murdered Indigenous women across Canada, the project displays red dresses hanging in public spaces.
In honour of Black’s work, student members of the Centre High art club decided to do their own version entitled ýo-tin ahcahk (Cree for Wind Spirit). They made clear body casts of themselves or their loved ones, using plastic wrap and tape, “to give an ethereal or spirit-like effect, further adding to the narrative of the clothes left behind in Jaime Black’s original work,” said teacher Stephanie Sakkab.
Each student piece included a cultural-style headdress, such as a Filipino wrap, Guatemalan bufanda or Somali and Syrian-style hijab, as well as a handmade version of the respective country’s national flower. The pieces are hung on birch trees with fishing wire to create an impression of floating on the wind, and are accompanied by an artist’s statement explaining their inspiration and personal connections.
The aim of the installation is to express empathy based on the artists’ individual experiences and instill a deeper understanding of this land and its history.
“This art installation creates a way to talk about important issues — the more we talk about them, the more awareness there is, the sooner they can be addressed,” Sakkab said.
The project title came from Dene elder Dr. Margorie Hodgson, who shared her experiences with students, whose work is purposefully arranged in a circle.
“In Indigenous culture, the circle represents equality and inclusion. No one alone inside, nor outside; having no beginning nor end. All are included in the spirit of unity,” explained cultural liaison Joanne Ladouceur. ❚
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Teacher Stephanie Sakkab makes an adjustment to one of the pieces that was part of a student art project called ýōtin ahcahk, which is Cree for Wind Spirit.