An All Beings Confluence fabric art installation,
celebrating our interconnectedness through art
Earth Day occurs every April 22. It is a day in which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on the environmental issues the world faces. As this year’s Earth Day approaches, I remember an art exhibition I attended last year in Victoria, British Columbia during Earth Week. Come Walk with the Beings, All Being Confluence at Cadboro Bay United Church explored the question of “How do we renew our sense of connection with each other and the earth?” The exhibition was listed as “Coming together through art to remember that all life is interconnected.”
All Beings Confluence is an ever-expanding fabric art installation created by many individuals from multiple communities. It consists of a series of long, narrow sheer panels, each representing a single living Being. The completed panels are installed to fill a whole area and a single panel is never seen by itself. It is always “in community” with other Beings. Everyone is invited to walk among them. The panels move gently with the air currents, merging into different patterns and combinations of colour and light. For a brief moment, we feel ourselves as part of vast, complex, and interconnected whole.
As I walked among the panels, I felt a peaceful sense of being in a forest of beauty. Each panel was stunning on its own, but together they became almost sacred. It was a meditative experience, inviting one to linger and calmly be part of the space.
All Beings Confluence began in 2010 when four Canadian prairie women, Madeline LePage, Martha Cole and Shannon Carson from Saskatchewan, and Fenella Temmerman from Manitoba, installed 75 Beings at the Banff Centre of the Arts to offer support and inspiration to singers who had gathered from across North America for the recording of Carolyn McDade’s CD “Widening Embrace”. Since then it has expanded to hundreds of panels by many different artists and has been shown in many venues across Canada and the United States.
The panels hung at Come Walk with the Beings represented only a portion of the full collection. Binders of information about the panels were available. A page for each panel contained photographs of the panel and information from the artist about the significance of their choice of subject.
Martha Cole said this about her Rhubarb panel: “Plants on the prairie are particularly hardy to be able to survive our harsh winters – it’s a long way back every spring. One of the most lush and earliest to come back is the Rhubarb plant . . . When I picked our plant, I couldn’t resist actually printing the vein patterns from its leaves and creating this panel in celebration of its resilience.”
Sharon Woodhouse said this about her Bees and Flowers panel: “Bees are so essential to humans and yet they are so easy to miss or ignore or fear. . . This art project is my homage to this little important insect – the honeybee.”
Donna Simpson said this about her Beets! panel: “. . I have felt a connection to beets all my life. . . My Granny was an amazing woman. She cooked, cleaned and took care of everyone and anyone. Her food was always delicious. Being of Ukrainian heritage, beets were part of her repertoire. . . All parts of the beet were enjoyed. . . They are beautiful and colourful. They remind me of my Granny and the wonderful warmth and love she brought to her family.”
Here are few more images from the exhibition.
A Note about Earth Day: Earth Day was founded by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. In a move to force environmental protection onto the national political agenda, he announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment.” With conservation-minded Republican Congressman Pete McClosky as co-chair and Denis Hayes from Harvard University as national coordinator, they built a staff of 85 to promote events across the country. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated for a healthy, sustainable environment. By the end of that year, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was created and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts passed. Twenty years later, in 1990, Earth Day went global when a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. Today, Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world.
Martha Cole, a fibre artist from Saskatchewan specializing in large landscape images, coordinates All Being Confluence exhibitions and offers workshops, which lead you through the process of creating your own sheer panel.
May we each find our place in this complex web of life which sustains us all. ∼Martha Cole
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