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Aqua Viva community art project underway for Canada 150

The community came together on June 21 and 28 to create a sculpted puzzle piece wall art project called Aqua Viva to go up at the Tett Centre as a part of Canada 150 and Culture Days.

The initiative is a part of Waterlution's Great Art for Great Lakes project, which aims to permanently showcase artwork created by the public in eight different Ontario communities to celebrate the Great Lakes and Canada's 150 birthday.

Kingston's Great Art for Great Lakes project is being run by Andy Berg, an artist with experience in sculpting and pottery as well as a fine arts degree from Queen's University.

She said this initiative will teach participants to "be more aware about the Great Lakes and more connected to them and more invested in their wellbeing. Because if the lakes are healthy that means we’re healthy and everything else is healthy. I think we have an obligation to respect the abundance of water that we enjoy in this country, because many do not have even a local source of fresh water."

Berg invited the public to take part in a discovery walk tour along the water, to introduce them to one of her art practices. She started off the tour with some energy exercises to form a connection between the walkers and the water. Then she took them on a walk from the Tett Centre almost all the way up to Lake Ontario Park, stopping along the way to discuss the history, make-up and habitats of the area. She also encouraged participants to jot down any key words or sketches during the walk that could be applied to their clay pieces the following week.

Back at the Tett Centre on June 28, Berg held her clay-making workshop to create Aqua Viva, the large wall art made up of individual clay pieces brought together in a triangular shape inspired by a shoreline rock Berg found.

To begin, Berg lowered the lights and set up a circle of chairs to lead the group through a visualization meditation, taking them on an imaginary journey along the water.

Listen to a clip from the session here:

After the meditation, the participants illustrated and shared words on paper describing their idea of water and its purpose.

Then, the real work of creating Aqua Viva began.

At the event was a friend of Berg and freelance illustrator/fine artist, Nancy Douglas.

“Speaking as an artist, I think an initiative that pays an artist to engage with the community is really, really important because making art as a group really breaks down a lot of barriers," she said.

Douglas said she had never done any sculpting, but was loving it.

"Unless it counts that I used to do play dough all the time with my children," she said. "I was the play dough Queen."

For her clay piece, Douglas used a key to make indents.

"The teeth of the key sort of remind me of the waves and I think it might look kind of cool when it’s all done."

Aqua Viva will be finished by Berg through a firing and glazing process and then will be hung at the Tett Centre in September.

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