The “Children to Children” art installation by artists Shirley Horn, Shelly Fletcher and Zenith Lillie-Eakett was created as part of the “Project of Heart Commemorating the Children for Future Generations” initiative. The initial unveiling of the installation was held at 180 Projects in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario in December 2013. The permanent installation of “Children to Children” at Algoma University took place in August 2014.
Elder Shirley Horn is a Shingwauk second generation residential school survivor and graduate from the BFA program at Algoma University. When offered to join the Project of Heart, she jumped at the chance to participate. She saw in this project a chance to express herself in more abstract way, outside of words, which can oftentimes be difficult given the subject matter. The art piece has evolved through six incarnations with each one in Shirley’s mind, not quite right. “It’s too traditional, too literal.” She qualifies herself as an abstract artist and wanted to move away from the traditional iconography and forms such as canoes or wigwams. “We are a progressive and forward thinking people, we respect and pay homage to our past but we are also able to function in today’s world with an eye to the future.”
Shirley’s final design took the cylindrical form of the drum and abstracted it to the point where it now exhibits the form of a round billboard. “ Billboards reflect history, past and present, they proclaim, exclaim, and tell a story, much like our drums.” The material chosen for this piece is rusted steel because the weathering and rust conveys not only beauty but resilience through the passage of time. While not a welder, Shirley has contracted a local steel fabricating business with her design, a tall round steel framework into which transparent layers of plexiglass with artwork on them that will be inserted vertically into the four quadrants.
Each panel or quadrant tells the story about the residential schools graduating from the past and into the present. . Additionally, the tiles will be seen within the artwork on the panels and throughout the room surrounding it. While they acknowledge the devastating effects of the legacy, Shirley, Shelly, and Zenith want to convey instead, a sense of growth, a bright future, and an affirmation that the children who did not make it home from the residential schools will always be remembered and that they did not die in vain.