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Activating art as an outreach initiative

Gregory with his dreamcatcher art work that has more than meets the eye. Bill Phillips


The closer you get, the more there is.

Gregory says there is a definite yin and yang aspect to his dreamcatcher. That much is obvious. The swoop of the eagle head against the dark blue sky is very similar to the familiar yin and yang symbol, which describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world.

While the yin and yang reference may be obvious in Gregory’s artwork, other references aren’t so obvious. That’s where the closer part comes in. As you get closer to the dreamcatcher, you will notice other shapes and figures hidden in the artwork.

There’s a teepee and the eagle’s eye has tentacles coming out of it, there’s a second eagle’s head hidden in the feathers of the first.

Participants in the Kikiwin program along with their art instructors and helpers.

And there’s more. While Gregory is happy to point out some of the hidden treasures in his work of art, he doesn’t point out all of them.

It’s up to the viewer to find them all. And, if art is truly in the eye of the beholder, then beholder’s of Gregory’s artwork might find images in there that Gregory didn’t paint in.

Gregory is among a group of about half a dozen people who participated in an outreach initiative at the Prince George Activator Society.

The initiative is a Community Arts Council of Prince George & District program called Kikiwin (a Cree word meaning healing).

The program is an outreach initiative that brings art training to under-reached groups including at-risk youth, men and women with intersections with the criminal justice system, and senior citizens. The program has Aboriginal culture and holistic healing components and sees some of Prince George’s most reputable artists working side-by-side with program participants. For the past five weeks, local artists Carla Joseph and Shirley Babcock, along with noted art therapist Si Transken and Aboriginal cultural worker Ivan Paquette, all have been working with a group of men from Activator Society.

On Monday, they put their work on display.

The BC Arts Council provided a project grant for the work and the City of Prince George helped out.

“The Community Arts Council of Prince George is committed to bringing arts programs and services to all members of our community,” said Sean Farrell, executive director of the Community Arts Council.

The Prince George Activator Society provides residential programs to men on conditional releases from correction institutions and who are re-integrating into the community.

Community Arts Council executive director Sean Farrell with some of the dreamcatchers made by participants in the Kikiwin program. Bill Phillips photo


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