My name is Gordon Sparks. The mother of my clan is the beaver; the spirit animal of my clan is the bear, born in the Turtle River, and the totem of our clan is the salmon. I grew up in the Pabineau First Nation band in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Through the traditional hand-sculpted wooden mask, I am on a vision path that guides my spirit, body and soul in the search for knowledge and wisdom associated with the stories of the Mi’kmaq peoples and with traditional ceremonies, foods and medicines. Each mask that I make is based on the story of my life and the Mi’kmaq people and includes a personal story about how I was guided to find the tree, take its life and sculpt the spirit in the wood so that everyone can see it and listen to what the mask has to say to those who need to hear it. There is a ceremony for each mask when it is awakened to be mounted on a wall so that people can see it, and when it is put to sleep in a box to be transported from place to place. The vision that was given to me guides my dedication and desire to record the past and the present in a three-dimensional form. I firmly believe in three-dimensional forms and narration. Each mask speaks to me and guides me, and each tree that I select tells me to continue sculpting the spirit of the wood in order to reveal it to all of the Earth’s peoples. Ultimately, through the three-dimensional forms and stories about the sacred fire, the spirits of the trees will speak to my people living today and to my ancestors in the past in the language of the Earth. For the Mi’kmaw people, my work as a maker of traditional hand-sculpted Mi’kmaw wooden masks represents tradition, ensures that traditional values, new and ancient ceremonies and oral histories are preserved, and brings people together to share the stories of lives spent together as a community.
A series of artist residencies will be hosted in one of the two former dormitories on the 4th floor of the Académie Sainte-Famille Social & Cultural Centre in Tracadie-Sheila. Lasting two weeks each, the residencies will include a community workshop day to which representatives of different social groups will be invited. Caitlin Wilson’s prints are created using a combination of woodcut and intaglio methods. She explores her home province of New Brunswick by car, hiking, canoeing and even snowshoeing and documents her observations in drawings to the point of becoming completely absorbed by the ecosystem around her. Rotchild Choisy is interested in the perception of interpersonal relationships that people share with their environment. The contrast of colours, gesture, textures and the reinterpretation of Haitian and African symbols are important in his creations. Symbolism and allegory are also used to criticize intercultural, social, and political relations.
Realized within the framework of the centenary
The creation of the Foundation was inspired by the dream of Jean Paul Riopelle, who wished to pass on his passion for art, his vision and inspire the next generation of artists to explore, innovate and surpass their creative potential.