“Our ancestors needed strength of character to build a solid home for their descendants. Those descendants continue to build and maintain that home despite the storms buffeting the foundation laid by their ancestors.”
That’s the message artist and St.Boniface native Marcel Gosselin says he’s trying to send with his sculpture VOLTE- located in the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden.
“Volte” is a French word meaning ‘to go round in a circle’. Perhaps Gosselin chose that name because he wants to show the cycle of life from one generation to the next.
His sculpture made me think about what gifts my ancestors may have given me that helped to build a strong foundation. Faith, a work ethic, an undeniable identity with a religious and cultural group, a connection with the land and a strong family network. Gosselin says storms are assailing that foundation. What are they? Families often living so far apart makes it harder to maintain ties and the move towards urban life makes our connection with the land more distant. Our increasingly multi-cultural country makes relationships between people of various cultural and religious groups inevitable, but also may make it harder to perpetuate the distinctive characteristics of those groups. Fewer and fewer people are committing to faith communities and many have been forced to close their doors. And although people may work as hard as ever, they are more keenly aware than they were in the past of the need to balance work and personal relationships in order to have a fulfilling life.
Is Marriage A Good Thing For Women?
Between Dog and Wolf
Filed under Art, Winnipeg
Is marriage something women are forced into because of society’s expectations or do they enter marriage willingly? Is a wedding a religious ritual, a spiritual experience or a civil rite imbued with sexual tension?
A sculpture called La Promise in the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden explores those ideas. La Promise is the work of Madeleine Vrignon a St. Boniface native with a Fine Arts degree from the University of Manitoba. She began her career as an illustrator of children’s books. When asked to create a sculpture in bronze of a young girl who had died of cancer, her interest in a new art form began.
The top part of Vrignon’s statue La Promise is dark and quite provocative, with a low-cut top that emphasizes the woman’s bosom and meets in a V that points to an erogenous zone of the bride’s body. She’s wearing dark long gloves, not the white gloves you might expect a bride to wear. Her hands almost seem to be reaching up in supplication. Her stomach bulges out a bit. Could she be pregnant? This top part of the dress is tight and confining.
The bottom part of the dress is lighter in color suggesting the more traditional white bridal dress denoting purity. It is more comfortable looking and free-flowing and less confining than the top. However there is iron grill work embedded in the dress. Is it trapping or guarding something? Vrignon wanted people to think about whether marriage was a refuge for women or not.
In this side view you can see how the bride has been tethered to the ground in the rear by guy wires. They might be giving her roots and security but they also tie her down.
Vrignon’s La Promise gives viewers lots to think about.
What is It?
Between Dog and Wolf
Filed under Art, Winnipeg
When have you been between dog and wolf? This eerie, see-through sculpture titled Between Dog and Wolf is in the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden on Provencher Boulevard in Winnipeg. Unveiled May 26, 2011 Between Dog and Wolf is by Canadian artist Joe Fafard.
Between dog and wolf in French is entre chien et loup. The expression first became popular in the 13th century and describes a time of day in the morning or evening when the dim light makes it impossible to distinguish between a dog and a wolf. Fafard has made his sculpture look ghostly. I kept trying to focus my camera to get a better shot because my photos seemed a little blurry. If you look closely at the empty cut out spaces in the piece, you can see all kinds of silhouettes–a church steeple, a man’s face, a woman carrying a basket, angels, birds, a cocoon and tree branches. I’m sure each viewer can pick out their own unique images.
One translator says the phrase entre chien et loup can also be used to express the sometimes blurry line between the safe and familiar and the unknown and dangerous, between the domestic and the wild. It expresses the uncertainty between hope and fear. Living in a entre chien et loup kind of space at least some of the time, whether by necessity or choice, might not be comfortable but it makes life more interesting. I wonder if we don’t learn the most when we are in entre chien et loup situations and places.
MaryLou Changes Her Mind
What is It?
“I wonder when they will be unveiling this new statue?” I thought to myself when I first walked past Michel de Broin’s sculpture Monument in the Jardin de sculptures de la Maison in St. Boniface. As I went up to get a closer look, I realized the statue wasn’t covered with a veil made from cloth waiting to be lifted. The sheet draping the statue was granite. Reading the plaque near the artwork I found out de Broin deliberately created the statue with a classic monument motif but didn’t define what it was. He wanted it to be an engima, a mystery waiting to be revealed.
De Broin said the figure is to remain anonymous so that each person who looks at it can figure out on their own what it means and what it represents. I walked around to the back of the statue to see if that would help me to figure out what it could be? Two sisters standing side by side? Perhaps even nuns since St. Boniface was founded thanks to the efforts of the Grey Nuns who established schools and hospitals there. Did it represent the many faceless women whose contributions to history are seldom recognized? Could the statue be a mother and child–husband and wife–two friends? They are joined together so they must have some kind of connection.
In an interview de Broin said his sculpture was inspired by the painting les amoureux with two veiled lovers kissing by Rene Magritte. I was almost sorry to read that because I preferred to use my imagination to speculate about the people under the drapery of the statue. The possiblities were endless.
What next? I already did a post about Between Dog and Wolf one of the other sculptures in the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden. There are two more sculptures in the park and I’ll write about them in future posts.