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Art installation spreads its wings in Assiniboia

Project possible through a $20,000 community art grant.

ASSINIBOIA — It may be slightly out of season for a butterfly to emerge from a cocoon and spread its wings during the fall, but that’s what occurred outside the Town of Assiniboia building recently.

A large set of steel wings, decorated with colourful handmade clay tiles were unveiled during a ceremony held Oct. 21 — the culmination of an art project titled Metamorphosis. Those gathered took turns posing between the wings for unique ‘butterfly selfies,’ and examined the finer details of the tiles.

Funding for the project came from SK Arts with Metamorphosis bringing together artists and community groups in and around Assiniboia.

“We had participants create the tiles,” explained Alison Lewis, who is president of the Assiniboia and District Arts Board. “We had 97 tiles that we used and 55 participants for those tiles.”

Workshops were held on how to work with the clay and create the tiles. Each piece was then fired and glazed at the Moose Jaw Art Gallery and Museum. All told, the project took about a year to complete.

So why the title Metamorphosis? Well, aside from the obvious connotations with the life cycle of a butterfly, the theme related greatly to a cultural shift in the community as well.

“It’s the transformation and transition that the [Shurniak Art]) Gallery has gone through in the last couple years with the passing of Bill [Shurniak] and becoming a non-profit organization,” said Crystal Thorburn, visual arts co-ordinator on the Assiniboia and District Arts Board. “As well as the community in that transition that we’ve had with COVID, and not being able to interact with one another as much anymore.”

The Shurniak Art Gallery was the recipient entity of the $20,000 Artists in Communities - Projects grant, which had a mandate of engaging the community through participatory art workshops, conversational gatherings and a collaborative public sculpture. Metamorphosis reached those targets, becoming quite successful with an end goal of stimulating the community’s interest in the arts.

Placement of the final work near the Town of Assiniboia building will also promote an evolution of the project.

“They [Town of Assiniboia] wanted to develop that area of the grounds, and so the Communities in Bloom are going to plant wildflowers that are butterfly attracters,” Thorburn said.

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