Artists: Rod George, Ruth Cottingham, Kayla Johnny, Riley Flanagan and Alicia Enns
The group is very quiet at first. They listen to the instructions very seriously. They seem to like the idea that this piece will be mounted at the university. I think about how much this group has to teach those young minds and hearts that will walk by their art piece when it is mounted, the generations that will see what they saw today.
The discussion is about not being artists. Someone who has never drawn before has created a detailed line drawing that has every one amazed. It is clearly recognizable as a Maggie dog – no-one knows the breed’s real name but we all know the Maggie dog from the TV commercial. She herself is really surprised. “I have never drawn before,” she repeats. There is a rose, detailed and shapely, beside Maggie the dog, symbols of loyalty and friendship and love that will line up under the word “create.”
She is the first to start with the colour, learning how to push and pull the enamels across the glass while the others are quiet, intent on their designs. One is a light bulb but it is lit from inside not by electricity but by flames. It represents the passion that has to be burning for creativity to happen. It illuminates the edge of the dream catcher and feathers that hover over it. In another design, there is a strong woman, standing tall, spreading seeds that turn into beautiful flowers, “but you don’t actually know what flower will come, and some of the seeds never grow, they are lying there, just scattered.” Another image has the image of the medicine wheel. The medicine wheel creates an understanding of ourselves and the world around, deceptively simple and achingly, beautifully, complex.
Now they are working out how to bring all these so very different images together. The woman casting the seeds has her arm and body shaped like a “C” so it seems to make sense that the other images become letters of the word too. There is agreement the Dreamcatcher will make a wonderful “A.” The Es and T are difficult though. It suddenly seems complex and overwhelming but they carry on.
As they work, learning new skills, listening to each other, encouraging each other, or quietly working head down, it is the Firepit itself that is being created on glass. The safe space that the Firepit can create, the differences it can accommodate, the different views of the world around the table, are emerging in line and colour. Even hesitant and unsure, they stay committed, to leaving a legacy, a picture that shows how creative the Firepit can be in the lives of the people who come here.