Written by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant
The Saskatchewan Craft Council is thrilled that the side of our Broadway Avenue building has been chosen as the location of a new City of Saskatoon Placemaker Program installation entitled River and Sky.
River and Sky is a contemporary urban light sculpture by Tony Stallard. The work belongs to the City of Saskatoon’s temporary collection of public art, as part of their Placemaker Program.
The artwork was developed in collaboration with Cree artists Joseph Naytowhow (performance artist) and Kenneth T. Williams (writer). The light sculpture features Cree syllabics that can be translated to “nipiy mîna sîpiy,” meaning “river and sky.” The work is displayed on the north-facing wall of the Saskatchewan Craft Council on Broadway Avenue for two years. This piece is a sister work to Land of the Berries, a neon light installation by Tony Stallard currently installed on the north-facing wall of Persephone Theatre.
The intention of River and Sky is to create a poetic site-specific artwork that reflects the sacred and ritualistic space of Treaty 6. The artwork connects to the Treaty relationship, referencing the text “as long as the river flows, the grass grows, and the sun shines.” These words remind us that this Treaty is a permanent relationship and that it is meant to be honoured forever. The sculpture also embodies the importance of the Elders’ historic meeting place near the river, which is also a contemporary location to gather, meet, and socialize.
River and Sky was officially launched at a lighting ceremony on Thursday, March 15, 2018. The Saskatchewan Craft Council welcomed Arliss Coulineur (First Nations Métis Inuit Education Consultant, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools), Joseph Naytowhow (Cree performance artist), Waylon Badger (Aboriginal Student Retention Worker, Oskayak High School), Lori-Ann Daniels (Superintendent of Education, Saskatoon Tribal Council), Garry Anaquod (Special Projects Coordinator, Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre), Mary Culbertson (Treaty Commissioner, Office of the Treaty Commissioner), Tony Stallard (artist), Harry Lafond (Executive Director, Office of the Treaty Commissioner), City Councillor Cynthia Block, His Worship Mayor Charlie Clark, students from Oskayak High School, and members of the media to SCC Gallery for the event. After speeches by many of our honoured guests, we gathered outside to light the piece. Then, in celebration, our guests and SCC staff formed a circle and performed a Round Dance.
The City of Saskatoon, in collaboration with the Business Improvement Districts, manages the Placemaker Program to add significance to civic spaces through temporary public art. These temporary exhibits transform public spaces and engage with audiences to promote an appreciation for contemporary art practices. All artwork is considered annually and selected by the Public Art Advisory Committee. Artists can submit any medium. Preference is given to submissions by emerging artists and pieces that reflect Saskatoon’s unique sense of place through its people, history, culture, or landscape. Learn more.
Tony Stallard is an English artist, best known for his large scale public artworks in the United Kingdom and abroad, which utilize bronze, steel and light sculptures. Stallard has worked for twenty-five years with public realm artwork and his work has been exhibited widely from Canada to Ireland and the Czech Republic.
Joseph Naytowhow is a gifted Plains/Woodland Cree (nehiyaw) singer/songwriter, storyteller, and voice, stage and film actor from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation Band in Saskatchewan. As a child, Joseph was influenced by his grandfather’s traditional and ceremonial chants as well as the sounds of the fiddle and guitar. Today he is renowned for his unique style of Cree/English storytelling, combined with original contemporary music and traditional First Nations drum and rattle songs.
Kenneth T. Williams
Kenneth T. Williams is a Cree playwright from the George Gordon First Nation in the Treaty 4 territory. His plays In Care, Café Daughter, Gordon Winter, Three Little Birds, Bannock Republic, and Thunderstick have been professionally produced across Canada. He is one of 10 co-writers for the Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show, which is currently on a national tour. He contributes regularly to the podcast, MEDIA INDIGENA, which examines current affairs from an Indigenous perspective. He lives in Edmonton with his partner, Dr. Melissa Stoops, and is an assistant professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Drama.