Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements

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A history of 4elements Living Arts and its programs, with engagements for educators and community members


HEATHER THOMA Contributing Writer

LEARNING THE LAND: CREATIVE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENTS A history of 4elements Living Arts and its programs, with engagements for educators and community members



Contributing Writer

TABLE OF CONTENTS 9 13 15 19 21 25 29 33 38 39 41 45 47 52 53 57 59 64 66 69

Learning the Land, Creatively Principles for Land-Based Practices Vision Mural Try This! Vision Mural Movement Manitoulin / Paraphrase Stone Inquiries The Jameson Inquiry The Story Project Try This! Telling Stories About Place Little Current Programs The Art of Being Billings Try This! Creative Community Consultations The Bonnie Blink Project Try This! Community Research Questions Animating the Archive: Traces Try This! Questions to Ask of an Archive Land Art What is Land Art? Try This! Land Art The Postcard Exchange

71 75 77 79 83 87 89 95 97 101 103 106 107 111 113 115 119 121 127 131 135

Land-Based Early Learning Try This! Early Learning at Home Paddle Lab River School Try This! River Learning The Hoop Project Art + Recreation Crossovers Try This! Creative Recreation Fieldbooks Try This! Walking As Research The Drawing Box Project Try This! Drawing the Land Mapping Try This! Mapping Mural Project: C.C. McLean Telling Trails Try This! Collaborative Sculpture Elemental Festival Billings Connections Trail: Nature. Art. Heritage Community Sculpture Institute for Land Art Studies

137 139 141 143 145 147 149 152 153 154 157 158

15 Years of 4elements: A Short History of a Long Engagement Brief Timeline of 4elements Artist Residencies Exhibitions Presenting Community Workshops & Classes Cultural Sector Development Publications Board Members Supporters 4e Team Hire 4e

L E A R N I N G T H E L A N D,


Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements


Learning the Land, Creatively

4elements Living Arts





Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements

L E A R N I N G T H E L A N D,

CREATIVELY At 4elements Living Arts (4e) we engage folks of all ages in art-making on and about the land. Our programs are land and process-based, experiential and interdisciplinary. Land art takes creating out of formal gallery spaces into public, outdoor spaces, making it approachable and accessible. The process of making with natural and found materials helps us relearn the land, learn about ourselves and the complexity of ecosystems. Many environmental challenges stem from how we relate to, and understand the world and our relationship to it: we need to change these stories, therefore we need to engage our imaginations, our emotions, and change (dominant) culture.

Essentially, most of 4e’s work over the last 15 years has been a series of different kinds of land-based engagements that invite people to learn about the land, creatively. This experiential ecological learning is coupled with lively engagement brought about by asking a lot of questions, encouraging inquiry and interdisciplinary research. We believe that learning happens in all kinds of ways, and we want to encourage that diversity of approaches. We involve people from all sorts of backgrounds and different communities, of all ages and abilities. Our engagements range from invitations to explore in a self-directed way, to facilitated and guided experiences,

“The Fieldbook Project Catalogue looks really tremendous (and hits my soft spot for tiny books)—so much to be proud of captured in those pages. Thanks for including me in the River School activities this summer, and for the incredible way you're hosting your community and making room for all to learn and grow and share. I'm so inspired by it all.”


from formal research to creative field studies.

C ONNE C T I O NS & C ONTEXTS We have all had a moment, however brief, when we stand quietly and feel the deeply restful sensation of being in a park, or on a trail, or deep in the bush—in that moment feeling like we are somehow remembering something that we have forgotten. These moments are far too rare, and are atypical in our regular lives, even for children whom we expect to be much more connected to the outdoors, and for those of us who live in rural and northern communities. These moments are not frivolous

perks, or rewards for good behaviour. Connection to the natural world is crucial in the formation of healthy lives and a healthy planet. We need to remember our connection to the planet; and how to be quiet; how to work with natural materials and craft objects that are both beautiful and functional; remember the importance that land and place have on identity, cultural connections, and meaning-making. We consume without truly understanding the trails and traces of our day-to-day consumptions and practices. Even if we live far from large natural spaces, our day-to-day disconnection from the natural world and our impact on it is a form of

4elements Living Arts

Learning the Land, Creatively


Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements

“My experience with 4e began in the fall of 2011 with taking drawing classes with Marc Brzustowski in the Little Current Library (in and outside) and also doing land art in Little Current with Sophie in the spring of 2012. I have always had an interest in art and have longed to go to art school but my life responsibilities were such that there was no possibility until 4e opened up space for a beginner like me. I felt comfortable in the classes and encouraged others to join in. In between classes I continued to draw. Drawing is now a part of my daily practice. I always carry a small book and pencil case awaiting small spaces of alone time to draw. I pick up leaves, press and illuminate them. I write about what I am experiencing, journal-like, with pictures. I buy art. I visit art galleries when travelling. I take drawing and painting classes offered by artists. I photograph things to draw later or use bits of photos for compositions. I guess I would say that 4e has imprinted me with an artistic mindset and I am grateful for this unique art education.”

—PAM JACKSON, COMMUNITY MEMBER AND PAST 4E BOARD MEMBER meaning-making that reproduces our dominant disconnected relations to the natural world. We separate the world into sectors: housing, industrial, agricultural, recreational, educational—but each of these are interconnected. Things we think are happening far away, are connected to us. Our daily activities are intimately tied to environmental process and land use; they are also directly tied to social and political processes; every act, no matter how seemingly simple, 12

Learning the Land, Creatively

about place, land, ecology, belonging and context. Some are more about building a personal connection to and an ecological understanding of the land, as we believe that these emotional connections help to build ecological stewardship. Some programs have been more “big picture,” for example challenging participants to consider the politics of walking, or engaging academic/artist/community research on land use history.

each story about a 4e project includes questions, invitations, suggestions and things we’ve learned along the way. We provide facilitation tips and ideas, rather than set ‘modules’ or step-by-step activities, as each place, each day, each group of participants, and each person has a particular context. We invite you to adapt and play with our invitations so that they can respond to your community, participants, ecosystem and experience.

T RY T H I S !


Artist educators, educators, and 1 . Lise Baronet, sound workshop participant, photo by 4e; community members alike will find invitations and tips for engagement 2 . Michael Belmore, artist, photo by 4e; takes place within the context of throughout the book. colonization. Each step we take A key thing we’ve learned over 3 . Sophie Edwards, 4e Artistic Director/ E.D., photo B on the land in Canada, whether we the years is that asking questions is rent Gervais; know it or not, see it or not, is on more powerful than answering quescontested territory. tions for people, and that good ques- 4 . Community members from Rockville and Espanola at Through our work, we try to tions help to shift/unsettle/challenge Elemental Festival, photo by 4e. build connections to the land and to the way we tend to understand the build understanding about the his- world. All of our projects are curated 5 . Exploring clay, early learning program, photo by 4e; torical and political context of these or designed to engage participants in social and emotional connections. inquiry, research, and questioning— 6 . Land art by Susan Snelling, Kagawong Community member, In this book, we have documented from simple questions to more comphoto by 4e; some of our programs from the past plex ones, each iteration; each project fifteen years. Each of them in some builds on the conversation. 7 . Outside the Box drawing participant, photo by 4e. way contributes to a conversation The Try This! sections following

4elements Living Arts

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Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements





Land-Based Early Learning

4elements Living Arts


Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements


EARLY LEARNING Kids get fired up outside. They beg for recess. They love to look for bugs, get messy, bring the outdoors inside. They are masters at finding the ant hill, the caterpillar, the ounce of mud in an expanse of cement. It’s a joy, and it’s playful research. It connects children to the natural world, and while they get fired up in this pleasure their synapses are also firing, and they are creating a way of relating and connecting. For over a decade we have been working in schools with children of all ages, encouraging land and placebased ways to integrate arts and creative practices in classrooms and

afterschool programs. We were invited by the Rainbow District School Board to act as ‘ateleristas’ (artists in residence) in early learning classes in schools on Manitoulin Island and in Sudbury region. 4e’s approach—although we didn’t know until about five years ago—has a great affinity with the ‘Reggio Emilia’ approach to learning, which was developed in Italy after World War Two, and has a world-wide following. As ateleristas, our work is child-centered: we follow the interests of the child; we use natural materials and make connections to the natural world, and consider the envi-

ronment to be a teacher; projects are “My teaching partner and I have process-based and iterative and we truly enjoyed following nature value research-based learning. Chil- based inquiries in our classroom dren work collaboratively and inde- over the past two years. It is a joy pendently, but are always encouraged to see the children explore natural to learn together and co-teach. As the materials that they may not have engagements are based on the chil- been exposed to before. They have dren’s interests we have to be flexible created incredible art!” and light on our feet, and be very creative so that we can create activities —EDUCATOR, LANSDOWNE PUBLIC and introduce materials that respond SCHOOL, SUDBURY to the children’s questions and curiosities. We rarely have a set workshop or activity in which all children create the same thing. Rather than direct students to impulse to find ways that the natural particular curricular endpoints, as world can be a teacher. artists in residence, we listen to the With the support of Ontario children and respond to their own Trillium Foundation, and with conquestions about their environment sultation from Ellen Brown (York in the classroom or their outdoor University), an early learning replay areas. We respond not with “an- searcher and seasoned workshop faswers” but with other questions, with cilitator and expert on ‘Reggio’ docusuggestions of art materials, or ideas mentation, 4e has developed an entire about natural phenomena or related book about our early learning protopics, that encourage them to come gram, available for purchase through to their own answers in whatever way 4elements Living Arts. We have also satisfies them. This approach hon- been facilitating early years educaours each child as a researcher in her/ tor training workshops across Onhis/their own right, with unique ways tario in these inquiry-based creative to learn and to collaborate with other ecological approaches. students, encouraged in their natural 4elements Living Arts

Land-Based Early Learning


Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements


6 8




hh Algonquin Public School

hh Blaire Flynn

1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 .

Sudbury hh Mariana Lafrance hh Assiginack Public School

Manitowaning hh Churchill Public School

hh Sophie Edwards hh Katie Fenerty


Charcoal exploration; Plant exploration; Natural dyeing; Weaving; Clay + fossil exploration; Early learning workshop for educators;

7 . Stitching and 3D creations. hh Heather Thoma

hh Lansdowne Public School


hh Patricia Mader,

Early Learning Intern hh Little Current Public School hh Queen Elizabeth the III

Public School Sudbury


Land-Based Early Learning

4elements Living Arts

All photos by 4e, with the exception of 1-3 by Brent Gervais.


TRY THIS! EARLY LEARN I N G AT H O M E When children are supported to follow their curiosities (aka obsessions!) they often lead to all kinds of wonderful and interesting learning. Many early learning classrooms around the province integrate ‘Reggio Emilia’ approaches in the classroom. 4elements introduces land-based arts exploration in classrooms and with kids outdoors and on the trails. How can you support your child to continue following these inquiries—this research—at home?

Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements

T H E ORI E S hh Kids are trying to figure things out all the time. For example, if a child

asks, ‘where does colour come from?’ encourage them to guess. Then test out their theory. Some ways? Gather plants and let them sit in water to test ‘where colour comes from’. hh Guess what seeds will produce, plant them, watch them grow, and

compare the results with the theories. hh Provide books about the subject they are keen on—visit a library. hh Go outdoors and look for similar creatures/rocks/bugs/patterns. hh Collect things on your walks and examine them at home with magnifying

glasses, or a microscope if you have one.


A H OM E ‘ S T U DI O’

hh Little ones ask lots of questions. When they do, don’t give the answer

hh You don’t need a separate room, but can provide baskets, small boxes or

right away. Ask another question: ‘why do you think that happens,’ ‘how do you think it works,’ ‘what do you think?,’ ‘where do you think this (animal, art material or natural object) comes from?’ ‘what could we try?’ Ask children for their theories and find a way, with them, to test the theory. hh When they’ve made something, ask them to tell you about it, what they

learned while making it, what frustrated them while trying to make it, and if they have new ideas or other ways they can try to find something out, or ways to make what they want to make (working through frustration is a huge skill for all of us). New questions will come up, and then you can follow those questions.

bins in a bedroom, play area, or kitchen with materials they can use to make things. Teach children where to find these containers and materials, how to take care of them, and where to put them away. The encouragement of curiosity, and encouraging exploration are huge openings toward creative research. hh A stitching kit can lead to the making of fairy dens, tents, clothing, dolls,

bags, forts… include the large-eye and soft-tipped embroidery needles, embroidery thread, and bits of burlap and fabric scraps (or large sheets for tents and other large creations). A piece of wood, a hammer and a nail can be used for making threading holes in dense fabric. Children can also mark where they want the holes, and you can make the holes for them. 4elements Living Arts

Land-Based Early Learning


Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements

hh A small container of clay wrapped up tight in plastic can be used

over and over again. Ask: where does clay come from?

a plastic bin with small jars of paint and a few brushes, a couple of rags for spills, and cut up pieces of newsprint are all that’s needed.

hh Provide natural materials like small sticks and stones (watch for choking

hazards), leaves, flowers. These can be used to build, create patterns, count. Sometimes having items to play with that aren’t already put together, or don’t have instructions, or don’t click in place together means children find new ways to play with things.


hh Watercolour paint;

hh Darning needles with

hh Brushes;

hh Keep a pile of larger sticks in the backyard. Kids will gravitate to

them and make things.

blunt edges; hh A drawing kit with pencils and paper (scraps from home, butcher

paper, newspapers); drawing materials like pencils, pens, pastels, dirt, pieces of dried clay.

hh Paper (you can buy art sketch hh Embroidery thread; hh Picture frame with window

hh Charcoal is wonderful and messy. You can set up unfolded pieces of

newsprint outside and let your child explore working large and feeling a large piece of charcoal in the hand. Ask: where do you think charcoal comes from? (If you have a woodstove or fireplace, morning-cooled charcoal is right at hand for drawing!)

screen tacked on for weaving into; hh Twigs;

and paint pads, or collect butcher paper, old newspapers, used printer paper); hh Graphite pencils; hh Charcoal (from a woodstove

or a shop); hh Leaves;

hh Keep magnifying glasses, pencils and paper on hand for close

observation and drawing.

hh Clay (clay can come from the hh Flowers;

hh If you are able to get to an art shop, pick up bulky pieces of graphite and

charcoal. The large pieces stimulate more nerve endings in the hands, and allow little hands to draw before dexterity builds toward fine pencils.

lake, or you can purchase it at craft and art shops);

hh Bones from deer, birds or

other animals;

hh Magnifying glass (and a

microscope if you have one). hh Seeds;

hh If you have room, keep an easel in a corner of the kitchen where a child

can paint and draw while you cook. If you don’t have much room,


Land-Based Early Learning

4elements Living Arts

hh Grasses;

4elements’ book The art of land-based early learning is full of tips and examples of 4e engagements with early learners.



Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements





River School

4elements Living Arts

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Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements


“I feel deeply thankful for the evening. Being with water, people who care about it and all the living flora and fauna, gave me new hope for the protection and long-term life of Manitoulin's rivers.”

SCHOOL T HE ART AND SC I EN C E OF RIV ER EC O L O G Y As this book shows, there are as many ways to engage with community arts as there are people with whom we engage. One way community arts engagements are sometimes contextualized is via learning in the arts, and learning through the arts. Much of 4elements’ land-based creative work with communities is learning through the arts, which teaches people about topics such as alvar geology, river ecology, or community development, using arts as the approach or ‘entryway’ to that subject area. Learning in the arts, on the other hand, generally entails more focused

“I was very moved by the experience! I appreciate the opportunity to put my learning into my body, as it lives with me in a longer and stronger way!”


art classes, teaching pastel drawing in a classroom, or teaching dance in a school gym focusing on the artistic techniques, without particular awareness of the context or place where the artistic learning is happening. In 4elements’ learning through the arts, we integrate learning about arts materials and techniques via the land-based engagements and the place and context of the learning. River School foregrounds the place on the Great Lakes where 4elements itself is situated: on the north shore of Manitoulin Island, in the village of Kagawong, along the Kagawong River which flows from Lake Kagawong into Lake Huron. River School entices participants of

all ages to notice, ask questions about, get to know, and consequently act to support, these waterways in Billings Township, or the waterways local to their home. Through River School, adults, children, and youth all have opportunities to get up close and personal with the plants, animals, insects, fish, and infrastructure that exist along the River, and to spend time learning about the interconnections between them all, using creative artistic approaches to build ecological ways of thinking and living in this local watershed. The program focuses on the main elements that impact river health, including the riparian (the plant dense transitional area be-

tween land and water), water flow, the substrate, plants and wildlife. Understanding geology of the riverbed through traditional storytelling and creating of pigments for painting from the rock of the river, are examples of hands-on interdisciplinary ways to immerse in the world of the river. Using several different ways of knowing, participants stretch their awareness and understanding about the place they are walking through. (See the Try This! Section for a list of combinations of topics, based on 4e’s River School.) 4e worked closely with a range of local experts, including staff from Manitoulin Streams (a local non-profit stream rehabilitation organization) 4elements Living Arts

River School


Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements

“My daughter really enjoyed the program, and had many interesting opportunities to explore, through art, the important elements contributing to river health. She was excited at the end of each day to share what she learned, and to explain to us about the art project that she had created (bat house, fossils, etc.). I think the program solidified her love of exploring the natural world, and I was really happy with her comfort with the instructors and the variety of activities that were provided during the week.”

—PARENT, COMMENT ON PROGRAM EVALUATION and other experienced educators, engineers, geologists, biologists, First Nations elders, and artists to complement 4elements’ expertise in environmental art and workshop development. Several sessions for adults and older youth had them paddling in canoes to learn about the Upper River, but the majority of sessions took place along the river trail from Bridal Veil Falls downstream to Mudge Bay in Lake Huron. As one of the most frequently used of all the trails on Manitoulin, visitors to the area who happened along the trail on their own walks, would meet up with River School staff and attendees, learn about River School sessions, and even sometimes join in! Local Manitouliners deepened their knowledge of the River and its watershed through 82

River School

4elements Living Arts

the program. As one participant exclaimed, “I have walked this trail every week, and never seen it like this!” The 2016 River School program was supported by Ontario Trillium Foundation, with the intent to build better ways of assessing the impact of interdisciplinary land-based arts work. To this end, 4e worked with a data specialist to design and analyze participant surveys, and had a fortuitous meeting with a teacher (Austine Luce, director of ConsumptionLiteracy.org) who had used qualitative assessments through drawing to assess her students’ environmental learning progress. Inspired this teacher’s work, 4e developed their ‘River Drawings’ strategy: before and after each River School session, youth and adult participants would ‘Draw the Kagawong

River’. By using the same question before and after, we were able to document the changes in ecological knowledge and understanding of the river by comparing the drawings. In addition to the qualitative drawings, 4e undertook an extensive survey process to gauge the impact of River School on a range of factors including ecological learning, development of stewardship, and the role of arts in learning.

yes, their minds and eyes and other senses were opened to new layers of knowledge about the river and its interconnected layers of life, and that art and creativity does indeed build this understanding and connection to place.

hh By program end 95% of

3 . After-program drawing of the river;

participants reported feeling connected to the River, the land, the plants and animals: a 50% increase from the pre-program survey. hh 73% of pre-program participants

COULD NOT name plants, animals and invertebrates that live in and around the Kagawong River. By end of program, 72% of participants COULD. hh River School demonstrated an in-

crease of 24% of participants taking steps to protect river ecosystems. We know from the surveys and conversations with the participants, that

IMAG E CR ED ITS 1 . Invertebrate exploration; 2 . Before-program drawing of the river;

4 . Riparian observation; 5 . Community river drawing; All photos by 4e, with the exception of # 5 by Hannah Renglich and # 4 by Alisha LeDain.

Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements

TRY THIS! 4e’s River School sessions facilitated a number of topical combinations and approaches to learn about the river through the arts. Below we outline a few of these activities for you to try, and questions to ask about your local community and its watershed. Which ecosystems, local experts, and artists in your community can you weave together to provide creative hands-on learning about the place where you live, to broaden your understanding of your ecological homeplace?

hh Invite a local photographer to teach basics of composition and

photographic techniques to strengthen your use of photography as a communication tool; ask the photographer to focus on key elements of water quality (riparian, waterflow, plant and animal life, the substrate) and how photography can document these elements in interesting and effective ways. hh Choose something you see in the river habitat that can symbolize or

illustrate the most significant things you learn about the river’s health while you are walking or paddling.



Learning the River by camera and canoe

Explore geology, traditional stories, pigment-making and painting

hh Research and find maps at different scales and featuring different topics:

hh Research the prominent geological features of the rivers or lakes and

Great Lakes Basin, local fishing boat launch spots, water quality assessment maps, erosion rates, land use maps, planned housing developments, agricultural land quality maps, etc.

landforms in your region. hh If there is a geology teacher or expert nearby, invite them to share their

knowledge of the area. hh Use discussion and a ‘Photovoice’-type approach to think through the key

learnings you can draw from these map-based sources (you don’t have to use Photovoice per-se, but can invite photographic responses to a series of questions and engagements)

hh Explore the traditional earth-creation stories of the First Nations peoples

who originally inhabited your region, and if they currently live there, inquire whether they would want to share some of those stories with you. 4elements Living Arts

River School


Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements

hh Find agricultural soil maps of your area to gain a sense of the range

of soils and rocks you are walking on. hh Invite participants to collect different soil samples from around

their region. hh Create pigments and milk paints or oil paints with these different

soil samples: add the pigment to water or linseed oil, mix, then use to make paintings of the river or lake.

L A ND A RT A ND WAT E R F L OW How does water flow effect and reflect river health? hh Research and learn about the ways and tools that scientists use to measure

and document water flow. Bring a thermometer along the river and test the temperature of the river at different locations. Draw a map or make a picture demonstrating the warm and cool areas. Draw the fish that need certain temperature ranges to survive. hh Visit and get a tour of a hydro station if there is one near you. How does

water create electricity? How does it change the flow of the river?

SOUND ECOLO G I ES How can listening, sound mapping, and other non-visual documentation teach us about river health? hh During 4e River School, participants created a sound map of all they

heard along their canoe journey up the river, but you could also do this when walking hh What wildlife, birds, and human-made sounds do you hear? How does

the water sound, what water speeds and features do you hear along the river? What do these sounds tell you about the ecosystem or the built environment, and the needs/issues of that area?

hh Learn from local ecologists, MNR staff, or restoration consultants about

ways that river restoration techniques can change river flow to benefit fish and shoreline habitat hh Create land art works that communicate elements of water flow and

habitat (See Land Art section on page 59 for more ideas here.)

B OAT S A ND F L OW F O R KID S hh During our program, children made boats out of natural materials and

tracked their path along the river to learn about fast and slow moving areas, shallow and deep areas and learned about the impact of these qualities on water temperature, fish spawning, and habitat

hh What questions do you have about these sounds? What do they make

you want to learn more about? hh See Mapping section on page 107 for additional ideas.

hh Build tiny boats and ‘race’ them downstream, to study flow in the river hh Why are the boats pulled into certain spots in the river? hh What materials or other design characteristics produce the most

resilient and river-hardy boat? 84

River School

4elements Living Arts

Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements

hh Once you have tried one boat construction method or collection of

materials, how would you improve it the next time? hh Discuss design iterations in art, science, and technology.

hh Choose several riparian plants and use a plant ID book or botanical key

to identify them. hh Note the overlap between “artistic seeing” and “scientific seeing,” that is

needed for plant ID. hh Use simple instruments to measure pH and temperature, and learn

how these all affect habitat for fish.

hh Research and discuss the importance of riparian border vegetation

for river health. hh Explore how red cabbage can be used as a pH indicator!


F I E L DB OOKS The art and science of observational drawing

Plants, roots, and invertebrates hh Collect grasses and flowers along the river. hh Use microscopes to identify invertebrates in the river, and learn what

is indicated about water quality and stream health the different insects. Use clay to create invertebrates, and drawing or watercolour to paint them. Explore questions of hybrids resulting from invasive species, and bio-mimicry by creating hybrid invertebrates using paper, cardboard, sticks, stones and other materials. hh If you have a local water quality organization that invites communi-

hh Share guidelines for respectful sustainable collecting from nature,

and teach about poisonous and invasive species. hh Make handmade paper with recycled paper and integrate the collected

plants into the pulp or as cover art or design on the pages. hh Leave time for the paper to dry (the thicker the longer to dry).

ty-gathered data about stream activity, and gather data with your group. hh The next day or after several hours, fold and stitch the papers to make hh Try observational drawing at the micro-scale with the microscopes, and

then at the macro-scale with naked eyes, to witness different types of patterns along the river, and draw them.

books, using a few different simple methods. hh If possible, have a campfire, and use cooled charcoal for observational

drawing along the river. hh What can the different patterns tell you about the river? hh Compare healthy and un-healthy riparian border by mapping the range

of insects, plants and the temperature of these areas. 4elements Living Arts

River School



Chapter Name

4elements Living Arts

River drawing by Laurie Satok.



Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements





Community-Designed Sculpture

4elements Living Arts


Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements


SCULPTURE MUT UAL RESP EC T | ACKNOWLED G EM EN T OF P LACE K. Jake Chakasim (Cree) is a lecturer at the Sudbury School of Architecture and Emily Carr University of Art + Design. His interdisciplinary approach to architecture addresses the need to re-contextualize Aboriginal traditions through refined typologies. Jake was awarded an Architectural Research Center Consortium Jonathan King Medal, an award that acknowledges innovation, integrity and scholarship in architectural and/or environmental design research. Jake is pursuing a PhD a the School of

Community and Regional Planning at UBC. During a two-week residency with 4e, Jake worked with local high school students and community members to collaboratively design and build sculptural forms that explored the relations between First Nations and settlers. Using non-traditional approaches, the work and the participants (from M’Chigeeng First Nation and Kagawong) responded to the materials and the site, rather than beginning with a pre-planned design. Board were bent and shaped to work within the space. As new community members joined the group, new ideas were integrated and the work continued to grow and evolve. Copper was

used as it is both a traditional metal and to signify communication. The copper boards move throughout the whole work, emanating from the central log, and represent life, love, and the heartbeat. The white and red boards, the light and dark bark, and the series of ‘twos’ and doubles represent First Nations and settler peoples. A salvaged cedar log, rotten on the inside, was cut in two, with the two sides placed ‘back to back’ at the centre of the piece; rocks were placed at the foot of the work to represent Manitoulin Island. Bear markings on one side represent claims to territory, while the bear claws on the other side represent protection. In the fall of 2017 students at Manitoulin Secondary School will engage with and respond to the sculpture and then work with Jake Chakasim during a second residency to create another sculptural form, from which a permanent work will be created over the following year. Funded through Canada 150, Ontario 150 and the Ontario Arts Council, the project and the works are part of the Billings Connections Trail.

COMMUNITY D ESIG NED SCUL PTUR E hh Lead designer: Jake Chakasim hh Carving: Steven

Fox-Radoulovich hh Design/Build: students and

community members hh Curator: Sophie Edwards hh Community facilitation: Sophie

Edwards and Sarah King-Gold hh Advisory Team: Josh

Eshkawkogan, Sunny Osawabine, Mira Jones, Anong Beam, Jamie Mohamed

IMAG E CR ED ITS 1 . Community members working with Jake Chakasim (right hand side); 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 .

Bending boards; Working on the cedar log; Cedar log delivery; The finished work. All photos by Emilie Edwards.

4elements Living Arts

Community Sculpture


Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements



Community-Designed Sculpture

4elements Living Arts

L E A R NI NG T H E L A ND: C R E AT I V E COM M U NI T Y E NG A G E M E NT S A history of 4elements Living Arts and its programs, with engagements for educators and community members.

An agency of the Government of Ontario Un organisme du gouvernement de l’Ontario

Produced through a generous grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Manitoulin Island | Mnidoo Mnising

Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements celebrates fifteen years of land-based and creative programs by 4elements Living Arts. Filled with project ideas, invitations for engagement, and creative ways to learn about the land and ecosystems of our communities, the book is a beautiful resource for artists, community organizers and community members.


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