Eugene Reimer Middle School approached me about an art project involving the entire school body, centering on the school theme of courage. They asked if I was willing to design and facilitate a 10’x5′ installation in their school foyer. Sure I was!
My goal in the whole project was inclusiveness. Eugene Middle School has a diverse population and it was important to find a symbol of courage that represented the students and surrounding community as a whole, so I decided to look outward. Outside the school there is a large rock and tree which have become a part of the school identity. Their sheer size and permanence is impressive and represent stability, strength, and courage. To this I added another symbol, the raven. The raven has meaning in the surrounding First Nations community, and it also happens to be the school mascot.
Now that I had my symbols, I created the design and sketched it on to three panels. For dimension, layers of cut wood were applied for the tree, rock and front grass. Then colours were assigned to the various areas. I either purchased or hand-painted paper which the students were to apply to the panels in half inch pieces. They applied these pieces using non-toxic, non-yellowing glue. Since each student in the school would work on this project, I designed it like a jigsaw puzzle, with many small sections, allowing many people to work at the same time. Only the raven is not made from paper. It is made of hand poured and hand cut resin. This achieved the glossy look of raven feathers.
In all, well over 43,000 pieces of paper were used (approximately six pieces of paper per square inch)!
To complete the project, students were asked what they thought when they heard the word ‘courage’. Their answers were applied to the rock and tree.
(Video courtesy of Abbotsford News)