“River and Sky” Added to City’s Placemaker Program
The City is pleased to add “River and Sky,” a contemporary urban light sculpture by Tony Stallard, to the Placemaker Program’s temporary collection of public art.
The artwork was developed in collaboration with Cree artists, Joseph Naytowhow (performance artist) and Kenneth T. Williams (writer). The light sculpture features Cree syllabics that can be translated to 'sîpiy mîna kîsik' meaning “River and Sky.” It will be displayed on the north-facing wall of the Saskatchewan Craft Council on Broadway Avenue. This is a sister work to “Land of Berries,” currently installed on the north-facing wall of the Persephone Theatre.
“Saskatoon has one of the most vibrant arts and culture scenes in the country,” says Mayor Charlie Clark. “Painters, sculptors, singers, playwrights, and many other artists contribute to the beauty, culture, and strength of our community. The arts provoke thought and stimulate important conversations. The “River and Sky” installation is a testament to the importance of the arts as it challenges us to reflect on the history of this land and the importance of the ongoing Treaty relationship in our province and community.”
The intention of “River and Sky” was to create a poetic site-specific artwork that reflects the sacred and ritualistic space of Treaty 6. The artwork connects to the Treaty relationship referencing “as long as the river flows, the grass grows, and the sun shines.” These words remind us that this is a permanent relationship and that the Treaty is meant to live for generations and generations. The sculpture also embodies the historic importance of the Elders’ meeting place near the river, and as a contemporary location to gather, meet, and socialize.
“The reflection of “River and Sky” in Cree syllabics through public art helps to create a sense of inclusion and understanding in our community,” says Mary Culbertson, Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. “This is especially important as we journey together towards Reconciliation.”
The City, in collaboration with the Business Improvement Districts, manages the Placemaker Program to add significance to civic spaces through temporary public art. These temporary exhibits transform public spaces and engage with audiences to promote an appreciation for contemporary art practices. All artwork is considered annually and selected by the Public Art Advisory Committee. Artists can submit any medium. Preference is given to submissions by emerging artists and pieces that reflect Saskatoon's unique sense of place through its people, history, culture, or landscape.
For more information on the Placemaker Program, please visit saskatoon.ca/placemaker.
Tony Stallard’s Biography
Tony Stallard is an English artist, best known for his large scale public artworks in the United Kingdom and abroad, which utilize bronze, steel, and light sculptures. Stallard has worked for 25 years with public realm artwork, and his work has been exhibited widely from Canada to Ireland and the Czech Republic.
Joseph Naytowhow’s Biography
Joseph Naytowhow is a gifted Plains/Woodland Cree (nehiyaw) singer/songwriter, storyteller, and voice, stage, and film actor from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation Band in Saskatchewan. As a child, Joseph was influenced by his grandfather’s traditional and ceremonial chants, as well as the sounds of the fiddle and guitar. Today he is renowned for his unique style of Cree/English storytelling, combined with original contemporary music and traditional First Nations drum and rattle songs.
Kenneth T. Williams Biography
Kenneth T. Williams is a Cree playwright from the George Gordon First Nation in the Treaty 4 territory. His plays include Care, Café Daughter, Gordon Winter, Three Little Birds, Bannock Republic, and Thunderstick, and have been professionally produced across Canada. He is one of ten co-writers for the Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show, which is currently on national tour. He contributes regularly to the podcast, MEDIA INDIGENA, which examines current affairs from an Indigenous perspective. He lives in Edmonton with his partner, Dr. Melissa Stoops, and is an assistant professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Drama