Star Watchers

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“We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered was the earth.” Bill Anders, Apollo 8 Astronaut

SFU Trottier Observatory and Science Courtyard

We are Star Watchers.

When we think of the infinite or question our place in the universe, our first action is to look upward. The sky holds opportunities and uncertainties that come with humanity’s need for exploration.

We are Star Watchers.

But we belong to a world where gravity holds us to the earth. Our stories and mythologies allows us to ponder our existence. From ancient times, campfires have been a place for storytelling. We look up at the night sky and see the stars enticing us to continue our search, to remind us that we may not be alone.

We are Star Watchers.

We live finite lives, but we recognize the possibilities of the infinite through the twinkling sky. May we continue to look upward, to explore and be amazed.

 

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” Vincent Van Gogh

World Art Day – A Declaration of Spirit

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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.

Dr. Elizabeth Elliott - Declaration of Spirit

Dr. Elizabeth Elliott – Declaration of Spirit

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

 

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

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Frog Constellation: A Love Story

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

“The frog is quite powerful in our thinking. It’s one of the creatures that can go in two worlds, in the water and in the upper world, our world. . . The frog is one of my family crests, but I don’t know the family story, how that came to be one of our crests.”

James Hart, Haida Master Carver

On Sundays, the corridors of Simon Fraser University are quiet, as if at rest before the commotion of student activity that accompanies the coming of Monday mornings.  Within this momentary pause, I take the opportunity to visit the Frog Constellation that is situated in Saywell Hall, by the SFU First Nations Student Centre. I have been there many times over the years since its installation and have come to sense a silent companionship with the sculpture. The Frog Constellation tells a love story that begins when a young man cannot find his love, only to learn that the frog king has whisked her away to his domain.  A wise old man gives him the knowledge of where to dig in the earth.  Millions of frogs come from the young man’s excavation, the last one being the frog king that carries his love back to him.

Within the themes of loss and recovery, it is the search that resonates within me.  It is the wisdom of age combined with the strength of youth that brings about resolution.

Frog Constellation

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

Frog Constellation

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

Frog Constellation

Frog Constellation: A Love Story

 

James Hart is a master carver who apprenticed with the late Bill Reid.  He bears the Haida name, “7idansuu” [ee-dan-soo], as hereditary chief of the Statas Eagle Clan.