Artists: Rob Giardino, Shannon Norum; Carolee Clyne
Word: The UNBC Act
This group hits the ground running. They have “The UNBC Act” as their word. They know how tough their task is and they arrive thoughtful, prepared.
“It’s legal, legalese” says one.
“But it is important. Without it what we have today simply wouldn’t exist.” The dense complexity yet invisibility of the legal foundation to UNBC is what they have to make visible. They agree, quickly, it is about balance. The scales of justice are adopted as the central image. They note bi-cameral nature balances the governance of the university. “I was thinking of other symbols too, like the dollar signs and books. And they have to balance as well.”
“Can we include hands? They could hold the balance.”
“I love the hands idea but can we draw hands?”
“Well, if we held the hands like this…” she holds her hands in the air in front across the small table they are gathered around.
“Wait, hold them there. I want to draw them.” Laughter. Wendy says this is the second workshop where human models have been pressed into action.
Hands in the image add the human element: the vision and support from people across the north that helped bring the act into being. They show the spread of support.
“The dates. Should we include the dates? Are they important too? But where do we put them?”
The sketches are many now. The laptop search engine is plugged into images of hands and scales. They are talking through and around the words. The ideas, the legalities, debating huge ideas like regional community representation on the Board of Governors and small concepts such as “should the dates go above or below?” They understand this, the extent to which the small, depending on context must become huge: “We need to keep it simple, not get lost in the details.”
The pace is picking up now, as the image is coming together. They are into grasping the technical details now, how the width of the glass, as it fuses, will cause the words on one glass to appear as if they are floating above the image on the other. Now they are debating colours. The official university green is easily chosen but “what about making the scale white?”
I think, cool, white for the winterscape but this group is quicker and more sophisticated than that. “The scale isn’t pure though.” And away they go, white abandoned, reviewing contrasts and shades and tone of other colours.
The way they work together, the conversation and concepts that swirl around the table, illustrate so well the purpose and process of a university act, its complexity and its simplicity. A delicate balancing act brought UNBC into being, the first university in Canada in over 30 years. The balance of political and practical, the legal and the human, political, the practical, the visionary, the large dream and the smallest of details all held and translated and made real.