Vernon’s newest public art was unveiled Saturday by artist Gabrielle Strong.
Also on hand were Mayor Akbal Mund, Susan Lehman Executive Director of the Downtown Vernon Association and Annette Sharkey Executive Director of the Social Planning Council at Cenotaph Park during a ceremony which also included a smudging ceremony by Mollie Bono of Okanagan Nation and live music from Michael Daniels.
The art piece is located Cenotaph Park in downtown Vernon. Though Strong completed the placing of the installation in mid-August, the official unveiling took place Saturday.
The winding Mosaic River was created through a participatory public art creation process as a legacy project of North Okanagan RespectFest to mark Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation. The artwork signifying the cycle of water is the design of Gabrielle Strong, a Métis woman and graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design who was awarded the commission following a proposal process in May 2017. The piece utilizes etched line-work, acid-staining, and colourful mosaic segments in shades of blue and green depicting aspects of the community and environment created by public participants.
“I wanted to create a work of art that honours our local waterways in their natural state, before confederation and infrastructure,” said Strong. “Our need for water is the common thread that connects us all. It is my intention that this mosaic river acts as a reminder of what was here before, and becomes the fabric we weave together in mutual respect as a symbol of our community and its commitment to the environment.”
During the summer of 2017, Strong coordinated and guided 100’s of participants including groups, youth, adults, and families in creating 54 metres of tiles to form the participatory public art piece. Her intent was to inspire respect within our community and a shared commitment to the environment, regardless of culture, race or background.
The Mosaic River was funded by the Downtown Vernon Association (DVA), the City of Vernon, and the Government of Canada. RespectFEST 2017 included dozens of events in and around the city September 18-24, 2017 and was funded in part by the Government of Canada.
“It was quite an amazing feat to bring so many people together to make this. I had this sort of crazy idea and it worked out better than I ever could have imagined. There are a lot of people in this community who have a piece of their heart in this project so that’s really neat,” Strong said.
The cost for the complete project including expenses, materials, participatory approach, installation and artist’s time is $50,000.
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