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Art Tree Project unites Canadians from East to West

By Celina Ip

Staff and students from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Elementary School in Pembroke collaborated on this colourful Art Tree that showcases a collage of pictures, handprints and phrases representative of their school community's values and vision.

Staff and students from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Elementary School in Pembroke collaborated on this colourful Art Tree that showcases a collage of pictures, handprints and phrases representative of their school community's values and vision.

 

The Art Tree Project has honoured Canada’s 150th by unifying Canadians through the symbolic image of a tree.

Founded by Burnstown art instructor Marlene Schaly in 2016, the Art Tree Project is a local Canada 150 initiative that has invited various families, schools, businesses and groups to come together and create their own Art Tree masterpiece.

As a tree symbolizes growth, sustainability, strength, hope and peace – Schaly thought that the tree would be the perfect symbol to honour our country’s milestone.

“The image of the tree relates to our national logo of the maple leaf and is symbolic of our Canadian landscape,” said Schaly. “Each of us has roots in our country, schools, faiths, businesses and organizations. We grow and branch out as human beings within these community groups.”

In 2016 teachers, students and artists joined with volunteer groups in the Ottawa Valley to create the first Art Trees for this Canada 150 event.

Thereafter, the project attracted more than 200 groups from across Canada who have been creating the Art Trees that reflect their unique stories and what they represent as a unified team. Using various artistic techniques and materials, the groups have created the Art Tree posters that each portray a tree in the middle that is surrounded by images reflective of the members’ vision.

“It's not professional artists but it's everyday people getting an opportunity to be creative in finding and having pride in their group and their place in their community. We’ve had people of all backgrounds, ranging from young kids to adults and from just about every province who’ve been involved. The people seem to be getting a lot out of it and it’s all volunteer-based,” said Schaly.

In the Ottawa Valley, various schools, legions, volunteer groups, churches, youth groups and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan took part in the creative initiative.

Pembroke’s Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Elementary School had all 13 classes collaborate on the Art Tree by each creating an image that suited the classroom and their creative process. The poster features a collage of colourful student handprints, pictures of students working and playing together and phrases such “giving to others” and “caring for each other” that represent the school’s values.

Staff and students at Eganville District Public School created an Art Tree representing a view of the Bonnechere River nearby their school. With the background done in acrylic paint, the tree is surrounded by art works from classes in Kindergarten through to Grade 8. The photos of student art have been composed together onto the scene and are examples of painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking.

Since January, the Art Tree Project has been touring the Ottawa Valley. The exhibit began in Arnprior before travelling to Renfrew, Calabogie, White Lake, Eganville and now Pembroke. With a total of 14 trees on display, the exhibit will remain in Pembroke at the Festival Hall for the Performing Arts until Oct. 22 before travelling to Shawville for the final stop on the tour.

For those interested in learning more about the Art Tree Project or creating their own Art Tree, visit arttreeproject.ca or “Art Tree Project” on Facebook.

cip@postmedia.com