Today, it is World Art Day (WAD). And what better day to celebrate than the 564th birthday of Leonardo da Vinci. Why WAD? After all, we are surrounded by art and creative accomplishments on a daily basis. But to set aside a day for the whole world to participate, to party, to enjoy – that is an entirely different happening. It is collective resolve to become involved in the full measure of artistic expression. It is offering art to those we love.
Art is a profound reflection of what we hold dear, symbolizing our values and belief systems. When we experience art, we enter the whole of human experience. Today, I want to offer a glimpse of this thought with art that celebrates the memory of Dr. Elizabeth Elliott, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at the School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University.
The corridors of SFU have a peaceful reverence on Sundays mornings. This is when I visit the totem pole that is dedicated to the “compassionate and courageous spirit of Dr. Elizabeth Elliott.”
Carved by two First Nation men in 2011, nearby signage describes the symbols that are embodied in this remarkable artwork:
“A single female figure is wrapped in the wings of an eagle, whose strength and wisdom guide a journey honouring social justice and human dignity. Leading the way is a tiny hummingbird, whose grace and tenacity opens our heart in the face of injustice. The figure holds a bowl of water for the hummingbirds, who with a single drop, and then another and another, can make a difference.”
I have never met Dr. Elizabeth Elliott, but I feel a connection through the creative endeavour that honours her memory.
Let us continue to offer art to those we love.
Acknowledgements: Tsleil-Waututh Nation; Men of Ferndale Institution who honoured Dr. Elliott; Correctional Service of Canada; Alex Paul, Spiritual Elder