Red Embers Public Art Installation Transforms Toronto’s Allan Gardens
Located above the pathways of Toronto’s Allan Gardens, 15 female-identifying artists have created an exhibit that represents an expression of inclusion, resiliency, healing and self-determination.
Red Embers honours the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA, with 13 large-scale banners using animal bones, beads, tin jingles, reflective fabric or moose hide.
The installation consist of charred wooden gates standing 20 feet tall, constructed from local Eastern Cedar poles. At the top, a cedar beam holds each of the 13 red canvas banners, which represent the 13 Grandmother moons within the Lunar System.
The project’s artists include: Annie Beach; Kristen Auger & Adrienne Greyeyes; Sara Biscarra Dilley; Hillary Brighthill; Hannah Claus; Rosalie Favell; Lindsey Lickers; Lido Pimienta; Eladia Smoke & Larissa Roque; Louise Solomon; Rolande Souliere; Catherine Tammaro, and Janelle Wawia.
“I feel that the design of Toronto is very patriarchal. This is public art made entirely by acclaimed and emerging women artists that is supported by women,” said Tiffany Creyke, curator responsible for commissioning the artists, and one of the three Red Embers’ designers. “I believe it’s a first for Canada. We are bringing our own chairs to the table and projecting ourselves as women into the development of the urban landscape.”
A banner titled ancestors are with us, by Hannah Claus, features silver reflective fabric based on a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) skirt. Claus, who is of English and Kanien’kehá:ka /Mohawk ancestry, states that the reflective fabric represents the lines of life.
“The lower line depicts an anonymous cityscape and the upper line represents the continuing presence of our ancestors,” said Claus
Smoke Architecture’s Eladia Smoke and Larissa Roque’s Animkii -Binese-Kanenh/ag | Bone Thunderbird banner displays two thunderbirds, back-to-back, made of bones from roadkill deer.
Each bone is sewn to its partner on the opposing side with copper wire. The blue side of the banner represents the female, while the red side represents the male. If one of the bones falls off the banner, its partner bone will also fall, indicating a weakening of society.
Rolande (Wassay) Souliere’s Kookum Power banner, uses reflective apparel tape, patterning found on street barriers and caution tapes, as metaphors to highlight the current socio-political and cultural issues of Indigenous people on Turtle Island.
The Red Embers public exhibit will run until October 4, 2019.
The all-womxn team includes:
- Elder Jacque (Jacqueline) Lavalley
- Red Embers’ Design Team: Tiffany Creyke, Lisa Rochon and Larissa Roque
- Structural Engineers: Ophelia Bajari and Madina Guillerm, ARUP
- Banner Fabricator: Regent Park Sewing Studio
- Charitable Partners: Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto, designers of two banners, with local Indigenous women, led by executive director Pamela Hart
For artist profiles, and more information about Red Embers, its donors, and its design story, visit www.redembers.ca