By Marci Becking
WATERLOO— Ariel Hill has the most beautiful Lunar Reflections exhibition happening until May 21 at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery. From Six Nations and Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, she holds a jewelry certificate from Kootenay School of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Alberta University of the Arts with a major in Glass. Her work is a reflection of her environment. She is interested in the intersection between elements of the natural world and how it relates to human experience. Her patterns and colour palettes reference cast landscapes as well as microscopic details of stones, plants, and other organic matter.
Her exhibit is entitled: Lunar Reflections. This name is a double entendre – a reference to the reflective, glossy medium of glass – but also to the introspective act of seeing oneself from the outside looking in. The moon and its phases – its relation to the passage of time – has significance throughout a variety of Indigenous cultures. Specifically, Hill’s body of work references the concept of the Thirteen Grandmother Moons of the Anishinaabe lunar calendar, and their respective meanings and teachings. While many of these moons correlate to the different months of the year, their meanings can be both referential to seasonal changes as time passes, but also changes within oneself and others. Hill has constructed glass vessels and beaded pieces to represent each of these moons and their significance, both as cultural lessons and to the artist herself.
“We all grow up with a series of values instilled within us. Sometimes, these values come from personal experiences – periods of our life that we have lived and learned through exploring the concept of trial and error,” says Hill. “Other times, these lessons come from the ones who raise us – our families, friends, and members of our community – who have taught and cultivated our respective talents. Then, of course, there are values of culture, of which are an amalgamation of all the aforementioned attributes and more. Lessons embedded within our heritage, teachings passed down between generations that are meant to inspire, educate, and guide people as they navigate through the journey of life. In this sense, these teachings are not only lessons, but they become an aspect of identity: the understanding of oneself and one’s beliefs.”
“The glass pieces were made with the moons and their teachings in mind. I chose the colours based on the subject matter, for example: strawberry moon, flower moon, etcetera. I then decided on the graphics to be engraved afterwards. I engraved a ‘moon’ on each of the pieces and tried to capture the essence of each of those teachings with animals, flowers, berries, and other elements of the natural world.”
Each of these glass vessels was constructed using glass-blowing, and engraving – both of which are difficult techniques to master. Hill remarks that “glassblowing is an animal unto itself. It requires skill, knowledge, physical strength, and respect”. Her practice begins by adding a trail of white coloured glass, and then a colour overlay. The colours are deliberately chosen to represent the different moons and to create a wide array of effects, which create an ephemeral, lunar atmosphere for the objects. After this, the pieces are blown out into their spherical shape, transferred to a punty, and then the top of the sphere is finished using a soffietta to inflate it after the transfer. The pieces are then annealed and inspected to make sure the colours are the right density, and that the shape is correct. Once the pieces have cooled, Hill then engraves on the glass using a diamond bit on a foredom rotary tool, reinforcing each piece’s narrative.
The glass vessels are also accompanied by beadwork pieces intended to complement each moon, as well as to showcase a form of traditional, Indigenous craft. Hill remarks that beading is “full of intention, patience and focus”.
Beadwork as a craft holds an important place amongst the many facets of Indigenous culture. It remains an important aspect of Indigenous, artistic expression and has resiliently been passed down between many generations. Beading patterns, colours, and styles are unique to every respective Indigenous group – each culture has its own traditions and visual signifiers. Beaded garments and ornaments are intrinsic to many First Nation ceremonies, and in many cases, the types of beaded items worn by an Indigenous person allow them to express their identity. Beadwork also holds great significance to spirituality. In a variety of cultures, colours chosen for beadwork pieces are interpreted through dreams, spiritual journeys, and spiritual traditions.
At its core, this body of work is an intentional and honest exploration of an intrinsic aspect of Indigenous culture – specifically the culture of the Haundenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples.
These concepts are not only about culture and learning, but they also encourage aspects of celebration, survival, and ceremony. Hill invites viewers to learn about these ideas through her own lens — her own personal interpretation of these moons and their beauty — as she pays tribute to them and her culture through her own artistic practice.
Cheyenne Mapplebeck, guest curator for the exhibition says, “As an Indigenous woman in my own right, I feel privileged and able to curate this wonderful collection of Ariel’s artistic practice and showcase an emerging beacon of talent in the contemporary glass world. It is important, after years of erasure and attempts at reconciliation, that Indigenous voices are given ample space to speak and to celebrate cultures that have persisted with incredible resilience.”
Lunar Reflections runs until May 21, 2023, at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo, Ontario.
Executive Assistant to the Vice-President Academic and Research (VPAR)
Mikinakoos Children’s Fund launches $15,000 fundraiser for GivingTuesday
THUNDER BAY (November 22, 2023) — Mikinakoos Children’s Fund, an Indigenous children’s charity providing essentials to youth in remote First Nations in Northwestern Ontario, is announcing the launch of a special fundraiser in recognition of GivingTuesday.
In alignment with the global GivingTuesday movement, Mikinakoos Children’s Fund aims to raise $15,000 to provide vital winter clothing to 18 First Nations, collaborating with the KO First Nations, Keewaytinook Internet Highschools, and Fort Hope First Nation. The initiative seeks to purchase over 1,500 coats for children in these regions, ensuring they are equipped to brave the harsh winter months.
“The winter season can be particularly challenging in the remote areas we serve, where many children lack access to proper winter gear,” said Mikinakoos Executive Director Emily Shandruk. “Mikinakoos Children’s Fund believes that every child deserves the warmth of hope during the colder months. With this in mind, we’re launching this crucial campaign to make a positive impact.”
Recent support from TD Canada Trust’s Ready Commitment Funding, a $50,000 grant over two years, is boosting Mikinakoos Children’s Fund’s Warm Clothing initiatives, of which this initiative is a part. With growing requests from various communities and organizations, Mikinakoos’ GivingTuesday funding alone wouldn’t have sufficed. Thanks to the extra support, the charity can now ensure that no child is left without essential resources.
GivingTuesday, which falls on November 28, marks the opening day of the giving season—a global movement encouraging people to come together for a day of generosity and positive change. Mikinakoos invites individuals and organizations alike to join in the effort to make a difference.
Here’s how you can contribute:
Donate: Your contribution, regardless of size, will bring Mikinakoos Children’s Fund closer to its $15,000 goal. Every dollar counts. GivingTuesday falls on November 28; however, this fundraiser will run until December 31.
Spread the Word: Share our campaign on social media, with friends, family, and colleagues. Together, we can make a wider impact.
“The remoteness of the communities we serve presents challenges in shipping and distributing necessities, such as food, sporting equipment, and winter gear, especially with the absence of permanent roads,” said Shandruk. “Climate change has further exacerbated the inconsistency of ice road conditions, making the delivery of essential items even more difficult.”
Please consider contributing to Mikinakoos Children’s Fund’s GivingTuesday campaign through this link or by texting “WARMCOATS” to 807-500-1522. Interviews with spokespeople from Mikinakoos Children’s Fund are available upon request.
About Mikinakoos Children’s Fund
Mikinakoos Children’s Fund is a charity created to address poverty by providing basic amenities, such as food, clothing, and shelter to First Nations children residing in remote communities. Join us on this journey to create positive change and secure the safety and wellbeing First Nations children. Engage with Mikinakoos Children’s Fund on social through #FirstNationKidsFirst.
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