Paddle Project

Project: Paddle Project
Artists: Richelle Miller & Thomas Anderson Mixed media, wood, and acrylic. 2020
Installation Site: Chiefswood Park, Six Nations of the Grand River

The Paddle Project workshops consisted of a sharing of Indigenous perspective, voices and history of Indigenous traditions through time, while acknowledging water as a sacred gift that connects all life. Through the use of paddle designs, the artists shared stories of water as the most life sustaining gift on Mother Earth and the interconnection among all living beings, how water sustains us, flows between us, within us, and replenishes us, as well as Indigenous symbolism, Water Clans, cycles and Water is Life.

Workshops opened with GANO:NYOK (Thanksgiving Address) serving as a daily reminder to appreciate and acknowledge all things and reinforcing the connection that people have to the world around us. Unique in nature, artist led workshops included time to work on paddles, designs through painting, drawing, carving of paddles for the final Eagle (messenger) sculpture, and a collaborative wampum belt (dish with one spoon)

The unveiling event held at Chiefswood Park was held as a drive-in concert including performances by ​​James Wilson, Steve Johnson, Hunter Sky, Teha Henhawk, Erika LaForce, Music for the Spirit Youth & special guest Derek Miller.

Artists bios:

Thomas Anderson is an emerging Indigenous Visual Artist, working in many artistic disciplines, including story telling. Thomas’ creative process has foundations in his Haudensaunee culture and Indigenous Knowledge. The nature of his multi-medium artworks supports the maintenance of cultural/traditional knowledge by involving communities both directly and indirectly. Thomas has collaborated with artists for installation in surrounding communities and has been commissioned by local health facilities for art installations. Various art exhibitions including 2017 First Nations Art, Woodlands Cultural Centre, Martin Luther College ‘Joy’ Art Exhibit, and travelling art exhibits in collaboration with Waterloo University.

Richelle Miller is a Six Nations artist who has been instrumental in creating the Music for the Spirit arts camp. She and Thomas have previously collaborated on the Legacy Blanket project, a collaboration between young artists and elders which involves creating textile works to tell Indigenous stories with a focus on historic events, resilience, wellness, and healing.