Stephen Inglis, Selection Committee Chair, speaks of the process to select the artist
Transcript: Stephen Inglis, Selection Committee Chair, speaks of the process to select the Artist
What we did was we tried to get together a group of very knowledgeable people as the panel, the selection panel. And we relied on their experience with First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists in Canada. Over the years some of us had curatorial training, some of us had managed large institutions. All of us had been involved in some way or another with First Nations art. So, we used our own experience, we learned what we could about the residential school issue. We looked at the site where the piece was going to go and we made selections based on our feelings, really about which artists could really address this challenge effectively.
10 artists are going to give you 10 different looks or ideas and of course that's exactly what happened. We thought that Christi's design not only captured the topic in a very interesting and kind of narrative way, but it also drew on the kind of artistic vocabulary of windows. It works very smoothly in the medium and we thought that comparing this with its special theme to other windows in churches and other places is a very interesting thing. It really is the development of the medium, as well as a statement about the topic. So I think she really gripped the idea very tightly and came up with a design that we felt would be, not only a statement on the issue, but also an enhancement of the stain glass medium itself.
There are many windows in the Parliament, most of them are clear or amber glass and this is only really the second in the modern era, only the second major window to be treated. The first was introducing the Senate looking into the centre, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee window, and now this one. But more than that, this window represents, I think for Canadians and everyone who visits the Parliament, the notion that there's a rapprochement and a new relationship that's developing between First Nations people and the rest of Canadians. So it symbolizes that apology, it symbolizes the nation's determination to address that tragedy. But it also says a new relationship is developing where a First Nations artist and a First Nations issue can be presented in the Parliament of Canada in probably the most prominent place in the building.
I think one of the issues that the whole residential school issue brought up was how little Canadians generally know about their own history. Obviously it was a hidden embarrassment of our national policy. Now that is out in the open, now that's its being addressed in various ways, I think everything in the Parliament is a historical tripwire to peoples understanding about this country in its past and this adds a whole other dimension to that. So, I hope they'll feel that, I hope they feel uplifted and esthetically stimulated when they see it, but I hope it will also be a stimulus to them learning more about their own history.