Story by Alana Forslund, Photos by Adrienne Marcus Raja and Alana Forslund
Imagine a surreal landscape filled with tiny forests, poems about heartbreak and hope, miniature braids of sweetgrass, and pocket-sized canoes. Through collaborative art-making, the Four Lands of Thunder Bay explored these and many other perspectives that are embedded in the fabric of our community.
This week-long initiative was offered by Jumblies Theatre (Toronto) in collaboration with local arts organization, Community Arts & Heritage Education Project (CAHEP). Travelling gatherings brought people together to explore miniature-making, written word, song, performance, and visual art inspired by Four Lands: The Goodland, Badland, Lostland, and Dreamland.
Participants brought unique life experiences to the project, and it quickly became a collage of hidden stories, narratives, and community dreams. For some, Four Lands opened a window to share untold stories. For others, it was a welcomed opportunity to nourish lost creativity. Some participants were trying art for the first time, while others had been creating for years.
What emerged was breathtaking, healing, and simply captivating. From moss-covered cabins, to unicorns, to miniature pow wow grounds built from matchsticks and fragments of paper, to tiny hideouts made of cedar, the project embraced hundreds of community stories.
Four Lands culminated on Sunday April 17th at the Baggage Building Arts Centre. The community came together to feast and share song, dance, spoken word, and artwork. Beginning on May 15th, the project will be exhibited at the new CAHEP Community Art Studio, at the east entrance of Victoriaville Mall, near the Bargain Shop.
Thunder Bay was the first stop on the Four Lands Tour, created by Jumblies Theatre, who are rooted in powerful artmaking with people, places, and stories. Local gatherings were hosted at the Baggage Building Arts Centre, Victoriaville Mall, and the March of Dimes. Lead artists included Jumblies staff: Ruth Howard, Nikki Shaffeeullah, Adrienne Marcus Raja, and Sam Egan, and many local creative contributors.
The Four Lands Project is supported by Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Thunder Bay, and many incredible artists, community members, and partners.