Work of Art: Untitled, [Home Fire] by Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal

This ephemeral piece of art is comprised of circular rock formations.

Photograph by Soloman Chiniquay


Title: Untitled [Home Fire]
Artist: Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal
Medium: Stones. (Cardinal acknowledges Soloman Chiniquay and Neil Fleming for their help in building the formations.)
Size: Approximately 60 feet in diameter. 
Location: West of the northwest parking lot at Grey Eagle Resort and Casino on Tsuu T’ina First Nation, accessible from the southwest corner of 37th Street and Glenmore Trail S.W.


Stand facing the mountain with the Grey Eagle hotel behind you and Glenmore Trail to your right, then walk toward the small stand of spruce trees. As you ascend the slope, notice the stones placed carefully on the ground. Two concentric rings of rocks encircle a central cluster. Eight small circles each surround a group of five or more stones. Heftier rocks form a perimeter. 

Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal (Mahihkan Acahkos Iskwew) led guests of Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society’s Common Ground Dinner Series to this site after supper on a May 2017 evening. For the dinner series, participants had been assigned to one of eight tables, each with an artist and an Elder and a topic to consider. The theme at Cardinal’s table was “borders” and together the group wrote a statement of hope. She positioned stones and created a setting for a closing gift of bundles of tobacco seedlings to honour Mother Earth and all those who had worked together. 

What remains now is an ephemeral piece of art sitting gently on the land. At first the work was untitled, but Cardinal added the words [Home Fire] to underscore two things: the layout of the stones (“the innermost core refers to children; radiating out from that are the Elders watching them, and outside of that are the adults,” Cardinal says) and the reflection that “if we do not bring teachings home with us, if they are not felt by the heart, then they won’t work.”

Cardinal is an emerging artist who brings a sensitivity to materials, an understanding of plants and growing knowledge of Indigenous traditional ways to multi-media works, performances and engagement with the community. Born and raised in Lloydminster, Sask., she earned a BFA from the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2015 and was named the national winner of the 2015 BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition. She then attended Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s Urban Access to Aboriginal Art program and the 2016 Indigenous Visual + Digital Arts Residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Her handmade paper star blanket was featured in “for the time being: 2017 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art” at the Art Gallery of Alberta and she installed a window project at the Centre Street CTrain platform for the City of Calgary at the end of 2017. 


This article appears in the March 2018 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here.


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