Artist selected for public art installation at the Miskin Law Community Complex

full bike rack

rendering of the public art commissioned for Miskin Law Community Centre

Peterborough, ON - Vanessa Dion Fletcher, a celebrated First Nations artist, has been awarded a commission to create an artwork for the City’s new community complex that will include a twin-pad arena and a library branch.

Dion Fletcher will create the focal point for the impressive two-storey atrium that will feature an east-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows at the main entrance to the Miskin Law Community Complex at Lansdowne and Park streets.

The artwork will build on the City’s commitment to create awareness of Indigenous cultures, peoples, and heritage. The commissioned work will provide insight into First Nations teachings, ethos, and spirit of sport as well and the role sport plays in building relations. 

The new work, entitled Analogous Harmony (working title), is composed of three hoops or rings, painted with the visual texture, pattern and color of quillwork. The rings are abstract forms that are an invitation for the viewer to see their experience with sport. The circular form evokes balls, tracks, hoop dancing, and the earth.

“I began by engaging with lacrosse sticks, hoop dancers, and canoes as forms of inspiration. I related these images to the feelings of movement that are evoked by my two-dimensional quillworks…I now see my quillwork as an invitation to look and see what is within one's own heart and spirit,” Dion Fletcher said, describing her work.

“Whether it was learning to ride a bike, paddle across a lake, run cross country, or playing soccer, for me, sport is a conversation with oneself, the environment, and the creator,” she continued.

Commissioning process

The project was shaped by a working group comprised of design professionals, local First Nations leaders and knowledge keepers, as well as curators specializing in contemporary Indigenous artwork and curatorial practice.

The commissioning process was by invitational call and adjudicated by the artwork selection committee comprised of Lori Beavis, Bonnie Devine, and Tom Cowie from the community at large and Deirdre Chisholm from the City’s Arts and Culture Advisory Committee.

“Historically, Indigenous people played sport like Baaga' adowewin' Lacrosse to settle disputes and grievances with other communities.. This event was set up by Elders and the rules were decided the day before and losing team would accept the outcome. It also was played for recreation and festivals. Having a sporting complex like this creates a safe and comfortable environment inclusive to everyone to enjoy regardless of who you cheer for,” said Tom Cowie, Hiawatha First Nation. 

About the artist

Dion Fletcher is a Lenape and Potawatomi neurodiverse artist; her family is from Eelūnaapèewii Lahkèewiitt (displaced from Lenapawking) and European settlers. She graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2016) with a Master of Fine Arts in performance and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University (2009). Dion Fletcher has exhibited widely across Canada and internationally and is also an accomplished educator, having taught at countless community workshops for galleries and community spaces.

Sculptor and fabricator Matthew Walker will assist Dion Fletcher on the project. Her time in Peterborough will also include an artist talk, workshops relating to materials and process, and the development of Lenape and Anishinaabemowin language resources related to the artwork.

The artwork unveiling will coincide with the grand opening of the community complex this fall.