Over the last few years I have been working with the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health as a guest art instructor during their summer camp program. I’m also very proud of my role last year as the art director of a community collaboration art installation called “The Thunderbird” that hangs majestically from the main level overlooking the earth floor. What I’ve learned and experienced through the Wabano Centre has been an inspiration and a realization of the spiritual connection to nature and to ourselves. I am very excited to be able to participate again this year with a contribution to the silent auction at the Gala in support of the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health on June 21st at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre. Respecting the issues of cultural appropriation, my sculptures are approved by the director of Wabano and I allow changes or additions to be made by the Culture Lead at the centre.
My contribution to this year’s Wabano Gala is “The Hoop Dancer”. She stands approximately 28″ tall. Her face, hands and feet are sculpted from polymer clay and her costume is made from textiles, leather and suede. Her costume is enhanced by a hand-beaded collar and accessories. Her hoops are painted with the 4 sacred colours and she stands on a polished maple base.
The Hoop Dance is a Native American dance that is performed as a show dance in many tribes. It usually features a solo dancer dancing with a few, or a dozen or more hoops. The dance focuses on very rapid moves choreographed to mimic animals or birds. In elaborate sequences the hoops interlock to extend from the dancer’s body like wings or tails. Although originally a male-only dance form, in recent years women have become active participants. Lisa Odjig from Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada, become the first female adult Hoop Dance World Champion and subsequently two-time champion as well as six additional hoop dance championships. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform live at last year’s Wabano Gala and you may remember her as one of the finalists on America’s Got Talent. Hoop Dancing was also performed in the 2010-11 season of “Totem” by Cirque Soleil.
In honour of National Aboriginal Day – Wela’lin