IIW welded art exhibition, 2021
TESSA POTTS and EILEEN FIRINGSTONEY (Canada)
Tessa graduated from Mamawi Atosketan Native School (MANS) just off the Maskwacis reserve on Treaty 6 land in Alberta, Canada in June 2020, and Eileen is a grade 11 student there. They were given the opportunity to take the introductory welding high school class and have since enthusiastically taken up more advanced classes and become absorbed in making creative welded art. For Tessa, welding is a passion of hers. Ever since she was introduced to it in grade 10 she has always found it fun and enjoyable. She finds that the simple act of watching metal melt together and being focused on that little bead just puts her in a zone. That zone also really helps her realize all the possibilities there are with metal. She likes sculpting, but fabrication is also a really cool area she would like to explore and hopes welding is a big part of her future. For Eileen, welding for her is an escape. She finds that she is so focused when she is welding that all the problems she has really don't matter. Welding gives a space where she can create and build, but also a place where she can make mistakes and find ways to fix them; you can always grind off a mistake! Welding, sculpting and fabrication are a safe place for Eileen and she hopes that her future career in welding will help her make a good living and give a space to be herself.
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Exhibit “MIWEYIHTOWIN” The City of Lacombe commissioned Tessa and Eileen to create the exhibit as part of its public art programme in 2020 and it now stands at a key intersection in Lacombe. The objective of this project was to showcase an animal that has had a significant presence and impact in their culture. The sharp-tailed grouse is an integral part of Nehiyaw (Cree) culture and annual gatherings and Powwows continue to honour this small but important bird. The method used to create this sculpture relied on trial and error and a good helping of out of the box thinking. They traded their combo square for sketched soapstone lines and got really crazy with the plasma torch. The main bodies of the birds are made from several interconnecting pieces of 14 gauge mild steel and the heads and feet are carved out of solid stock. They integrated some silicone bronze along the lateral side of the birds and also added some to accentuate the eyebrows. The finish is an oxide that will patina and age well over time. This project will hopefully be a beacon to many in the future and they hope that seeing it will remind us that humans have a duty to acknowledge each other in kindness (“Affinity” is the English translation of the title) and to acknowledge the creatures that also share this planet with us. Dimensions 36 in deep x 48 in tall x 70 in wide
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