In a week or two, a new public art piece will be installed outside the Reid-Thompson Public Library in Humboldt.
Over the course of two months, many hands contributed toward the completion of the work, a mosaic made entirely of glass pieces.
On March 13, the library held a gala to thank the many people who participated in the project over the two months.
“On behalf of the Community Connections Program Committee, thank you for participating in the creation of the Cultural Mosaic,” said librarian Rose Ward, who initiated the project, together with Janine Hart of the Humboldt Regional Newcomer Centre (HRNC) and Kara Loy of Carlton Trail Regional College (CTRC) in Humboldt.
The project was made possible through a grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration. The idea of the program was to bring together the people of the community in a project that would encourage the integration of immigrants or new residents.
“Over the past eight weeks we’ve met new community members, we’ve reconnected with old friends and neighbours, we enjoyed some amazing entertainment, and we learned a new craft,” Ward told the people who attended the final gathering. “We came together, and we connected.”
Humboldt glass artist Elaina Adams, whose submission was chosen for the project, spoke about her intention when she came up with the mosaic design:“We are all rooted to planet earth.”
At the centre of the circular, eight-foot-diameter mosaic is a smaller circle representing the planet earth. A wide border of tree branches and leaves run around the edge of the circumference, and four tree stems reach down to connect with planet earth.
“When I designed this project, I wanted to keep the design fairly loose, because I wanted the input of the volunteers’ own stories and words,” Adams explained. “One of the ideas was to have on each leaf a text of how we feel about our communities, and we could use our own language to add that word.”
In the end, over 10 languages appear on the leaves of the mosaic, including Spanish, German, Dutch, Ukrainian, Afrikaans, Filipino, Chinese, Cree, French and, of course, English.
“I think it’s going to be a really awesome art piece that the people of Humboldt can enjoy as well as people who come and visit our community,” Adams said.
As well as working on the mosaic every Monday evening from January 9 to March 5, those who attended the Evenings of Cultural Mosaic were treated to some form of cultural entertainment.
“We had some wonderful artists that came out,” Hart said. “Arts, music, dance, story-telling, poetry – it was just a fantastic time.”
Hart, whose work at HRNC brings her directly into contact with immigrants and new residents to the city and the area, spoke to the audience about how important it is for people from other cultures to find their place in their new land. She used the analogy of the mosaic design: a tree, its leaves and its roots to illustrate that point.
“If we buy a tree from a nursery or garden centre, and we take it home to where we want to plant it, Hart said, “in order for it to grow we have to loosen that net. If we keep that net tied, it’s never going to interact, it’s never going to blossom.
“We have to loosen that net so that our branches can grow,” she continued, “so that our leaves – our children – can blossom. And that’s what we depicted in the mosaic, that we are all rooted to planet earth.”
The finished mosaic will be installed on the north wall of the city’s library, facing toward the Heritage Garden, adjacent to the library and City Hall.