Exhibition of fire and sound approaching
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
An extravaganza of fire and sound is coming to Sioux Lookout and the whole community is invited to attend.
Sioux Lookout artists Nadine Arpin and Eric Hansen, along with artists Ed Janzen of Windsor and Debbie Metzler of Thunder Bay, have each created fire sculptures which they will display March 24, at 8 p.m., on Ball Diamond A, located at 87 Third Avenue.
Khione and Jakean (Sioux Lookout’s Piper Jewell and Keaton Mason) have been commissioned to create a soundscape piece. Arpin said this will be a projection presentation which will thematically complement the Shape Shift exhibition.
Explaining fire sculptures, Arpin informed, “Essentially they are wooden structures built with straw, wire, screws, etc., and then set on fire. They will range in size, 10 by 10 feet and larger. Some of them will have kinetic movement. These objects are one offs and will burn anywhere from three to 10 minutes at various degrees.
“The pieces are a form of performance art in a way. The fire becomes their spirit, if you will, and the fire will also consume them. What people will see is this process.”
“Back in 2014 I was participating in a media arts jury,” Arpin said. “Ed Janzen and I sat next to one another. We got to talking, as one does, and he told me about his fire sculpture art with a fire sculpture festival held in Windsor, Ontario in the fall. I had heard of Burning Man, of course, but had never seen anything like what Ed was describing.
“Ed suggested coming to Sioux Lookout and holding an exhibition. I was in. We agreed to make it happen although I suggested making it a winter/spring event and not during the fall.
“It was only this past fall the planets finally aligned and we seriously began to pursue support from the Ontario Arts Council and our community. Mid-February we received the amazing news that our proposal was awarded an arts grant,” Arpin explained.
Eric Hansen has built a transitional burning person. “There will be moving pieces and farming utensils. Lots of hinges, springs, and things to make this happen. He will be decked out as a gardener/farmer. Layered burning material down to some skeletal metal parts. He will be called the Transfarmer. Spring time sacrifice to all the gardeners out there. Bringing life from ashes,” Hansen commented.
Arpin said, “Janzen’s sculpture will be of a ladder in exaggerated perspective that joins the earth to the sky.”
“I am interested in the cycle of creation and destruction. The fire spirit climbs up the ladder and eventually destroys it – splitting and breaking it apart,” Janzen explained.
Metzler described her creation. “My fire sculpture is called Raven Flight”.
Metzler’s Raven will have outspread wings making the sculpture look as though it is in flight. The sculpture is approximately 25 feet long with a wing span of about 20 feet.
“Ravens shape space and time – everything fire touches changes. A blazing raven in flight celebrates transformation, lighting up the darkness, giving life to new ideas and adventures. Do not fear the dark, the raven with guide you,” she said.
Arpin shared, “Mine is called Rise Up. It will be a large skeleton marionette which will dance to a Red River jig as it burns. The skeleton represents humanity regardless of race, gender, or age. The Red River jig is a nod to my Metis heritage and my connection to Turtle Island. We live in trying times and these fires are meant to free the spirit of its earth bond if only for a moment.
“Ed Janzen is the only artist who is experienced in building these sculptures,” Arpin said. “The other three of us have never done this before.”
Arpin said Janzen helped mentor her and each of the other artists as they created their masterpieces, which range from 10 to 30 feet in length.
Asked about the name of the event, Shape Shift, Arpin informed, “It was a collective process among the four of us. Fire is such an important symbol to every culture, to the human race. Thematically the exhibition is looking at transformation. Fire, by its nature, changes everything it touches; it literally shifts the shape.”
The exhibition will be 45 minutes to an hour in length.
“We encourage people to come at eight or just before it gets dark to see the sculptures before they burn,” Arpin suggested.
March 25 has been set aside as a rain date for the event.
“This is a free event for everyone,” Arpin added. “We would like to acknowledge the generous support of the municipality for providing us the use of the ball diamond and its support staff to clear the area. The municipal fire department is working as a partner to ensure proper safety measures. In addition, we have the sponsorship of DJ’s Gas Bar Ltd.
“Digital Creator will document the event with video and photos.
“Additional support comes from graphic designer Klaus Rossler and Tony Kay, our sound technician, and all our volunteers. Finally, we are grateful for an Ontario Arts Council grant which has provided IgniteArt Collective the financial means to create this premier event in NWO.”
Arpin concluded, “We want this event to become an annual exhibition and encourage more people to participate next year. We want this to grow and become an extraordinary event happening here in Sioux Lookout. This is the dream.”