CANMORE – Reconciliation is a long process.
Stoney Nakoda artist Andrew Holloway is hopeful his new artwork on display in the Canmore Civic Centre will continue to build a positive relationship with the Town.
“To move forward from residential schools and work towards reconciliation, we have to talk about what happened directly and not walk around the issue,” said Holloway. “That’s the idea of the artwork. To see the image hidden in the piece you have to look at it directly. When you walk around it, the image is distorted but when you stand in front the buffalo becomes clear.”
The artwork is not flat. The stainless steel laser-cut piece is split into three large staggered panels, which Holloway said was intentional – to distort the image from the sides.
The main image in the laser-cut sheet metal is a buffalo. Inside the buffalo are the faces of the three chiefs of the Bearspaw, Wesley and Chiniki bands that make up the Stoney Nakoda Nation, as well as Tatanga Mani, a Stoney Nakoda leader and missionary John McDougall.
Holloway was contracted by Brenda McQueen, a descendant of the McDougall’s to design the piece.
“She told me she saw a buffalo, and she also told the story of John McDougall passing away while on a buffalo hunt. From there I ran with the idea.”
He described the buffalo hunt as an important part of the Stoney Nakoda’s culture and for a settler to be invited was a big deal.
“To me, that shows that there was once a time when the community and the church lived beside each other. They supported each other. I want to inspire people to get back to that point,” said Holloway.
Surrounding the buffalo is a random geometric pattern of shapes that Holloway calls the ‘chaos.’
“Around everybody’s life there is chaos going on – maybe it’s something bad or something wrong. But if you step back there is a beauty to your chaos, there is a story that your chaos is trying to tell you.”
The laser-cut sheet metal was nearly a three-year-long project that went through several design ideas.
“Ideas flow and they fall into place. I went through many ideas and sketches until I landed on the final design. I was able to pick what I liked about different sketches and use them in the final piece.”